So Mario Lemieux, once the “next Gretzky” (and probably a better player – look what he’s done despite the injuries), picks up the “next Mario” (let’s forget about that whole Lindros thing – the best thing he ever did was help Colorado win 2 cups.) Let’s face it, with 168 points in 62 games, the kid’s got something. Even better, it looks like he and the rest of the league might actually get a little help from some rule changes. While TSN has a good summary, here are the highlights as I see it:
- Shootouts. Finally, no more ties! I know there will be grumbling about this one, but I say it’s about time. I never want to see one in the playoffs, because sudden death overtime is an order of magnitude more thrilling than a shootout, but if it means I never have to watch a lazy reg. season tie again, I love it.
- Two line passes are in. Give hockey a fast break strategy and another weapon against the trap. Another good one.
- Tag-up offside is back. I’m wait and see on this one – if every team’s strategy is a dump and chase, well…
- Goalies now have a restricted area in which they can play the puck. It’s about freaking time for this one – I’m sick of untouchable goalies slowing down the game by skating waaay out of their creases to stop a puck.
- Zero tolerance on obstruction. Face it – we’ll believe it when we see it. We’ve heard it before, yet we continue to see big, slow defensemen slowing down the speedier guys by latching on with the ol’ hookeroo and going for a ride. This (along with the reduced size goalie equipment) is probably the most important thing to make the game worth watching again.
In short, I was never all that bitter about the strike, and I’m looking forward to the season starting up again, so let’s play ball. Well, you get the point.