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The Hockey News

The Hockey News

Usually when there’s a bone to pick with a penalty call it has more to do with the referee’s judgment than the validity of the rule, but there’s an inconsistency in slashing calls around the league that is driving me crazy.

As it is now, when a player whacks another player’s stick, if the “victim’s” stick breaks, it’s a penalty. If it doesn’t, play on, boys.

My beef is the determining factor in whether or not the stick breaks isn’t necessarily how hard the slash was, but whether or not the fancy, space-aged stick was ready to explode.

Proof of that is in the fact we’ve all seen sticks split on something as gentle as a partner-to-partner pass between D-men. So, a penalty is assessed based on the dependability of a stick, not the severity of a slash.

That makes no sense.


Covering hockey for a living definitely has its perks, one of them being the chance to get frequent “inside” looks at the game. It’s too bad every fan doesn’t get the chance to attend NHL team practices because you get a real sense for how high the base skill level of every player in the league is.

It’s amazing to see how easily even fourth-liners can bury a puck under the bar from the blueline or to see stars show off the tricks they don’t pull out in games for fear their coach will strap them to the bench.

Any doubt about how fun it really is to play in the bigs is eliminated when you see the amount of ribbing and slapping that goes on in the name of team camaraderie.


Anaheim inking 22-year-old center Ryan Getzlaf to a five-year, $26.6-million pact further entrenches the trend of teams giving young players big deals based on what they hope is to come, versus paying old free agents for what has already been.

Edmonton signed Thomas Vanek (though Buffalo countered), Ales Hemsky and Dustin Penner to big-buck deals, likewise for San Jose with Milan Michalek, L.A. with Dustin Brown, Vancouver with Kevin Bieksa and Minnesota with Brent Burns. These are all young players with one or two good years behind them and – their teams hope – lots more ahead.

The logic seems solid, locking up guys you assume are going to be big-time contributors for the long haul. Still, something about investing millions of dollars in what you’re pretty sure will happen is a tough concept to embrace.

I don’t like to spend five bucks without knowing exactly what I’m getting.


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