Hockey needs a bit of cre­ativ­ity

The Compass - - SPORTS - Ni­cholas Mercer Ni­cholas Mercer is a re­porter/pho­tog­ra­pher with The Com­pass. Truth be told, some­times he likes the monotony of hockey, but not al­ways. Ni­cholas can be reached at nmercer@cb­n­com­pass.ca

Al­right, I’m just go­ing to come out and say it — watch­ing hockey on tele­vi­sion is get­ting to be a bit mo­not­o­nous.

Think about it. Watch any game fea­tur­ing any team in the Na­tional Hockey League and you’ll find the same sys­tem.

It looks a lit­tle like this — get the puck to the blue-line of the op­po­si­tion, dump the puck in and go get it.

Once the forecheck oc­curs and the for­wards re­trieve the puck, a lit­tle imag­i­na­tion takes place, but noth­ing that reg­u­larly blows your mind.

There are neat passes, some of them will make you want to take a sec­ond look, but for the most part they are run of the mill.

Ask the play­ers and the game plan will surely in­volve get­ting pucks to the net. That re­sponse elic­its a ‘ duh’ from this cor­ner. How else is the puck do­ing to go in if it isn’t hurled to­wards the goal?

Quite frankly, and you might re­voke my Cana­dian cit­i­zen­ship for say­ing this, but hockey is get­ting a bit bor­ing.

I’d pay just about any­thing to see a reg­u­lar end-to-end rush in to­day’s game or at least a ‘sys­tem’ that doesn’t in­volve do­ing the ex­act same thing as your op­po­nent.

Coaches get cre­ative. Al­low your play­ers the op­tion to make some­thing hap­pen rather than stick to a tired script.

That’s prob­a­bly why this scribe will un­doubt­edly choose a tele­vised bas­ket­ball game over a tele­vised hockey match.

Bas­ket­ball of­fers that ath­letic cre­ativ­ity that I crave. It is that sim­ple. The game is not re­strained by coaches that want to mi­cro­man­age their play­ers in any way.

Do they run plays? Of course they do. But there is just some­thing dif­fer­ent about the game. Play­ers can freestyle when a par­tic­u­lar play breaks down.

Then, there is the fast break. It is a thing of beauty when run cor­rectly, es­pe­cially when the ball fails to touch the floor but reaches the hands of four play­ers en route to a slam dunk at the other end.

That’s just my pref­er­ence. I’d like to see a cou­ple of coaches take more of a chance when it comes to hockey.

Dare to break from the mold of the bor­ing dump and chase. Dare to en­cour­age play­ers to not re­lin­quish con­trol of the puck at the blue-line.

A few years ago the em­pha­sis was placed on in­creas­ing the over­all scor­ing out­put in the game. The rules were changed to dis­cour­age the clutch­ing and grab­bing that had be­come com­mon­place at the pro­fes­sional level.

Maybe, there needs to be another shift of fo­cus.

Hockey is a game that can be ex­cit­ing when it wants to be. When the Pavel Dat­syuks, Pa­trick Kanes and Sid­ney Cros­bys of the world are free­wheel­ing their way through the neu­tral zone on the way to the goal, hockey is at its pin­na­cle.

It is in those mo­ments the game can do no wrong. It is those mo­ments I’d like to see more of.

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