In a night that was as intense as it was magical, Sidney Crosby made his return.
With two goals and two assists Crosby led his team like the captain he truly is. The Pens destroyed the Islanders in a huge welcome back effort that clearly has ignited a fire under an already great hockey team.
They outshot and out checked the Islanders. They did a decent job protecting the puck and masking their shots. They moved around the Islanders net fairly well keeping the pressure up. It was good hockey all the way around. If you are an Islanders fan, I am sorry for what I am about to say.
The Islanders played like an example of the problem the league has. Trying to keep the level of parody between the teams is failing and only making the case for lifting the salary cap. Some teams just have the money and should be free to spend and build fantasy teams.
The Yankees do this every year and they don’t win the series every year. Look and Lebron and the Heat. They failed with crazy talent.
This game of ours needs some major talent infusion but what it could accept is some star power to get fans bye for the time being.
There are just not enough house hold names in hockey.
When I grew up I could name over a hundred players and so could most of the kids I grew up with, girls included. I realize hockey is nowhere near as popular now. But it is insane. I can’t recall an entire team’s skaters anymore. When games start I have to make a serious effort to put together who is playing on most of the teams.
I am a Carolina hurricanes fan but I still root for the Penguins and Rangers. I used to pull for three more teams when I was younger but I have no need to be that into the game now. The guys are still good but the game isn’t played as intensely. It feels slower and there is way too much dumping the puck to draw icing.
Aside from fighting the worst part of hockey is the motion of I give up, toss the puck away, style of play. This is a time killer and a sign that many defensive units can’t keep up with the speed of the young guns of the game.
I wish I had a team to root for that played more like the Mark Messier, Brian Leetch, Adam Graves, and Samuelson D years of the Rangers. The Rangers had a fun, high paced, and yet somehow conservative approach to the game. They played a good three periods and passed the puck forward to create pressure.
It feels sometimes, like the game is more about holding onto the puck than creating attempts on the goal. Luckily the Canes and Penguins have some skaters that like to shoot.
And I am grateful for that. Watching Crosby’s first game back was like watching a return to the glory days. They pressured the crease and pushed forward pretty well on the Islanders D. Ultimately the Islanders couldn’t keep up and lost 5 to nothing. But it is a tricky thing. Rooting for the golden age of hockey is like hoping the league will collapse again in five or so years.
But I don’t care. I want the new age of spending to begin. Stop letting foriegn leagues steal are talent. The best players should be playing in the US not in Russia, or worse somewhere else.
Sometime, hopefully soon, the owners are going to have to sit down and think of what they can do to raise hockey’s profile.
In honor of Sidney Crosby’s return, here is my thought on what can be done right now.
Take fighting out of the game. No other sport allows this garbage to occur in thier arenas. Why should hockey. It isn’t even that entertaining in person. Its childish and is a sign of terribly poor sportsmanship.
I have loved the lack of Dino Cicerellis. An enforcer’s job should be to shield the goalie and mask the forwards passes. They should be free to lay down the law against the boards. But I don’t want to see any more of this slash and instigate nonsense.
It hasn’t been that long since skaters were brutally injured by violent slashes with a stick. I won’t name names here. They don’t even deserve to have their names mentioned in writing.
The game needs to pick up pace. So its time to end offsides and two line pass penalties. Let the rink be the only border. The game would be a little more high scoring but the game would be so much better to watch. Also, it would finally get new fans watching the game.
Then there is the shootout. I realize that this is not the way many of us want to see the game’s decided, but they are so awesome to watch. Fans like the tension. There is just something irresistible about a one on one battle between goalie and skater. This is one of the main reasons I love Soccer.
But I watch skaters like Crosby and wonder. how many goals would be scored by a great player like him if only the game facilitated more scoring chances. So lets get behind more shootouts.
Also, I hate the all-star game set up now. We have to get the game more exposure. So lets play the all star game in the same arena every year, outside, and as late in the season as possible. Let the snow fall and the fans get in close. Give the skaters snow shovels and make it as close to a pick up pond hockey game as we can. I would vote for a Minnesota or Columbus venue as a potential alternative to Yankee Stadium being the main location for it.
Lastly, I have to admit, the game needs the world to take an interest. So. As the other sports have been making efforts to play in foreign nations, so too should the NHL. At three times per year, the NHL should schedule over seas games to feature a sport in dire need of new talent and investment.
Sidney Crosby is a unique player and he would seem even greater if the sport recieved some more media exposure. So, here is my final thought. When a team like the Pens puts together a truly very talented team as they have done, why can’t major tv networks get behind the game? There is something to this. NHL leadership should get the game off of VERSUS and onto major networks starting with ESPN. Do whatever it takes. Get your big names doing more product edorsements and all of these things will bring fans to the game.
I loved the return of the greatest young talent in hockey. I am grateful on this Thanksgiving Thursday that he did not get hurt again. The year might shape up to be impressive after all. So get to your local teams arenas and shout it out to the world that hockey is a great sport and needs your attention.
If you love the game, word of mouth should be moving often.
I hope you will join me in celebrating Crosby’s triumphant return and in rooting for a huge year leading up to this year’s playoffs.