TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. – The championship final of the Traverse City prospects tournament went into overtime and that meant the dry scrape of the ice that will be in effect for this season. From the time the final buzzer sounded to the time the puck was dropped for overtime, exactly six minutes and 21 seconds had elapsed.
So assuming the time frame will be about the same for the NHL, that’s more than six minutes of idle time for a league that has seemed obsessed with game flow for the past decade. That’s also more than six minutes where the players are sitting in sweaty equipment getting cold and possibly cramping up before going out on the ice to skate 4-on-4 in a high stakes situation. One NHL official who was on hand in Traverse City thinks it will be a matter of time before players and teams begin blaming that five minutes of inactivity on tweaks, groin pulls and other injuries that might occur in overtime.
The problem as some people see it is that teams technically aren’t allowed to leave their benches during the dry scrape, so they’re left basically sitting there getting cold. One solution would be to allow them to go to their dressing rooms for a couple of minutes, but there are some rinks in the NHL where that would be impossible because the visiting team has to skate across the ice to get to its dressing room. That’s the case in the Bell Centre and several other rinks around the league.
One solution would be to put seven minutes on the clock and allow teams to go back to their rooms for the dry scrape and where possible, mandate they be back on their benches and ready to go with two minutes remaining on the clock.
It’s an idea worth considering. This might be one of those NHL innovations that has some unseen and unintended consequences attached to it.
TRAVERSE CITY ROCKS I haven’t been to all the rookie tournaments around the NHL, but it’s difficult to imagine one better than the Traverse City prospects tournament. Not surprisingly, the tournament is the brainchild of Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland, who should be considered as a replacement when Gary Bettman decides to retire as NHL commissioner. And I mean that in all sincerity.
Holland and the Red Wings started the tournament 17 years ago as a four-team event and it has grown to the biggest and most competitive rookie tournament in the league with eight teams. Other NHL teams are clamoring to get into it, but the Red Wings can’t accommodate any more teams because there are only two sheets of ice in Traverse City.
Holland takes pride in the fact that teams can come to the tournament without worrying about having their prized prospects injured by no-talent thugs. Sonny Milano of the Columbus Blue Jackets was knocked out of the tournament early after going face-first into the dasher and breaking his orbital bone and cheek bone, but that was on a hit where Milano got low and hit the boards at an angle where his visor couldn’t protect him.
In fact, Holland barred the Chicago Blackhawks from the tournament a few years back because a bunch of their tough guys caused havoc. But he made it clear the Blackhawks would be welcome to come back if he could find a spot for them.
MANTHA OUT FOR FINALEAnthony Mantha, the Red Wings top prospect, sat out the Red Wings final tournament game after he caught a rut in the ice Monday night and tweaked his knee. He will be available for main camp, however, and the Red Wings will likely use him in every pre-season game to give him a good look.