The Vancouver Giants and Medicine Hat Tigers played a Game Seven for the ages last night. This game was everything that game seven in the NHL isn't. Intensity...check...Wide Open...check...End to End Rushes...check...Every last ounce of engery on the ice...check. I brings to debate...which is the better product?
I for one have always contested that the NHL is still the better product. After watchin last night, everything that I ever agrued against junior hockey was thrown out the window. If 'My NHL' ever has a game like the one that I witnessed last night I would be willing to consider it a draw.
Yes, the NHL is played by professionals, fewer mistakes lead to fewer scoring opportunities lead to fewer goals. Better goaltenders lead to fewer goals. Better defenseman fewer goals. Better coaches leads to...hold it right there.
The NHL is over coached. Yes, it does begin with what these kids are being taught in the juniors but in the end it is the coaches ability to 'let go' that brings out the best hockey. Players are being coached into carbon copies of one another. 'Don't go out of your defensive position, let's play not to win but let's play so that we do not lose'.
I am sure that the coaches in last evenings tilt stressed some sort of systems play but in the end, I am willing to bet that in the moments leading up to the game (especially the overtime) each coach said something along the lines of..."It's up to you now, take everything that I have said to you all season long, everything that you have learned in your hockey career to date, and either throw it out the window or use it to your advantage".
The NHL is over officiated (In some cases). Yes, during the overtime last night there were several plays where players may have gone a little over board with the rough stuff but...unlike the NHL the officials were willing to understand the moment of the game. In an extreme case (I am sure) the referees would have made the call but there were no penalties for 'obstruction' or 'interference'. Mr. Bettman and the rest of his executive staff continue to take the leverage from the officials on the ice. Don Koharski, Kerry Fraser and Don Van Massenhoven are not allowed to use their personal judgement to make a call, the penalties are dictated from above.
So as the NHL continues to dictate that if a player falls... someone must have tripped him and if the player closest to them did not trip them give them a penalty anyways...oh and in that instance the player that fell must have dove, let's give him a diving penalty (A trip and dive? I never will understand that one).
This past season the WHL did adopt the NHL 'new standard of play' but in the end it is the leagues ability or shall I say the leagues willingness to allow an official the opportunity to call the game. I am of the feeling that an official should not determine the out come of a game. I am also of the feeling that some penalties should be called regardless of all the circumstances that we all know of (playoff vs. regular season; overtime vs. first period etc..) but the officials in last evenings WHL Championship game understood the intensity of the game and may have just slightly raised their standard for most calls.
Not only would I like to congratulate and thank the players of last evenings game, I would also like to send my hats of to Coaches Don Hay (Vancouver) and Will Desjardins (Medicine Hat) as well as Kyle Rehman (Referee) and Andy Thiessen (Referee)...thank you gentleman...thank you for a wonderful night of entertainment.Thank you for a game of the ages....
So in the end, as the NHL coaching fraterinty continues to fear the next firing and the NHL officials continue to demand respect, the game continues to falter.