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Proteau's Blog: Stars and dots

• Thrashers GM Don Waddell is one of the NHL's most respected movers and shakers, which is why he is a member of the league's competition committee. But he said something deeply troubling in an extensive interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Tuesday.

Get a load of this:

“Q: Any other changes (the competition committee will be considering)?”

A: Soccer nets. (laughs) No, every year that gets talked about. Again, we're not going anyplace with bigger nets. I think everyone is pretty happy with where the rules are. Face-off dots, we're going to change that. Every faceoff in any place on the ice will be on a dot. Especially in the defensive or offensive zones, we drop the puck all over the ice and the integrity of the faceoff gets challenged because you don't have lines there painted and guys cheat in. . . We have nine dots painted . . . and yet we find ways to drop pucks at 200 other spots on the ice.”

Good heavens. This league is still not where it should be at in terms of (a) scoring, (b) scoring chances, (c) goalie equipment, and (d) eliminating obstruction, and all they're going to look at are faceoff dots?

Why are we at all surprised the NHL has fallen off the casual sports fan's radar?

• Tonight's NHL awards should be…er…interesting. Here are the nominees, as well as the players I think should be making their way to the podium:

CALDER TROPHY (Rookie of the Year)

Nominees: Evgeni Malkin (Penguins), Jordan Staal (Penguins), Paul Stastny (Avalanche)

MY PICK: Malkin. Playing alongside Sidney Crosby may have boosted his point totals somewhat, but with apologies to Messrs. Staal and Stastny, Malkin will leave the longest, biggest impression on the league.

HART TROPHY (Most Valuable)

Nominees: Martin Brodeur (Devils), Sidney Crosby (Penguins), Roberto Luongo (Canucks)

MY PICK: Brodeur. By the time his career ends, Crosby will have more than one Hart to his name. This year, however, Brodeur broke Bernie Parent's 33-year-old record for wins by a goalie, played 78 games and led the league in saves and shutouts.

Without him, the Devils are life and death to make the playoffs. Not sure you can say the same for Crosby; and though Luongo comes close, his overall numbers don't impress me on the same level as Brodeur's did.

LADY BYNG TROPHY (Most Gentlemanly)

Nominees: Pavel Datsyuk (Red Wings), Joe Sakic (Avalanche), Martin St-Louis (Lightning)

MY PICK: Datsyuk. His '06-07 numbers (27 goals, 87 points and 20 penalty minutes) are very similar to those he put up in '05-06, when he won the Byng for the first time. I smell a repeat winner.

NORRIS TROPHY (Best Defenseman)

Nominees: Nicklas Lidstrom (Red Wings), Scott Niedermayer (Ducks), Chris Pronger (Ducks)

MY PICK: Lidstrom. Niedermayer and Pronger would've been great even if they didn't play on the same team, but each certainly helped the other this season. Lidstrom, has no comparable teammate, yet still scored 62 points and led all blueliners with a plus-40 rating. That's good enough for me.

SELKE TROPHY (Best Defensive Forward)

Nominees: Rod Brind'Amour (Hurricanes), Sami Pahlsson (Ducks), Jay Pandolfo (Devils)

MY PICK: Pahlsson. I still think Brian Rolston got jobbed on this last year, but that's neither here nor there. Pahlsson got a lot of spotlight during the Ducks' championship run, but he was playing well long before that. Brind'Amour will likely win this in large part to his well-earned reputation.


Nominees: Lindy Ruff (Sabres), Michel Therrien (Penguins), Alain Vigneault (Canucks)

MY PICK: Ruff. Whether it was dealing with the expectations the Sabres had on them this year or moving in a small army of AHLers as injury fill-ins, Ruff more than delivered. Yeah, he didn't win the Cup, but this award is for the regular season.


Nominees: Brodeur, Luongo, Miikka Kiprusoff (Calgary), Henrik Lundqvist (Rangers)

MY PICK: Brodeur. See Hart Trophy explanation.


If the NHL is serious about eliminating obstruction and creating more scoring chances and goals, it had to create more room on the ice. The easiest way to do this is go 4-on-4 permanently. Though a radical idea, the game has not always been 5-on-5 (it was one time 6-on-6). The players are bigger, stronger, and faster than they were in the 60's and 70's, and so there is less room on the ice. In the playoffs, shooting lanes are taken away and players block shots regularly, so not only do the number of goals decrease, but so do the number of odd-man rushes (ie: the exciting stuff). Reducing the size of goalie equipment may produce more goals, but it will simply be more screened point shots and scrambled rebounds going in ... zzzzz. P.S. Adam - Congrats to you on your PHWA award ... keep up the excellent work!

- Patrick Kerr


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