The conventional wisdom in hockey used to be that tall players – say, 6-foot-6 and above – were simply not built for the sport.
Now, in the past, this wasn’t much of a problem since there weren’t many people of that size strapping on skates. But in recent years the NHL has trended up (as well as down, ironically – you no longer have to be 5-foot-10 and up to play; it just helps) and several new players this season will once again prove the biggest aren’t necessarily the slowest.
In Buffalo, Sabres fans may be in for another long campaign, but at least there will be a silver lining poking his head through the clouds. Tyler Myers, all 6-foot-7, 200-plus pounds of him, proved last season that he had mastered the mechanics of his lanky frame and turned into a stellar skater on the blueline. His play in the 2009 Memorial Cup tourney with Kelowna saw him swooping down the ice like a condor and heaven help you if you tried to get around his long-reaching wingspan.
Myers will at least get a shot at making the Sabres this season and with expectations in Buffalo not super-high, he can log some minutes, make some mistakes and learn from them without fear of ruining a Cup run.
In Tampa, 6-foot-7 Victor Hedman will also get a chance to strut his stuff and once again, we’re dealing with a slick skater who can dish the puck from the blueline. Expectations will be higher, since Hedman was the No. 2 selection in the draft this summer, but with Mattias Ohlund brought in from Vancouver as a Swedish defense mentor, Hedman will be in good hands.
The one curious thing about the two youngsters is nailing down precisely how big they are, ironically. Different outlets will add or shave an inch and I get the feeling teams prefer to stay in the 6-foot-6 range when describing their charges.
But here’s the thing; I’ve stood next to both Jared Cowen (Ottawa’s first-rounder this year and officially listed at the draft as 6-foot-5 and a quarter) and Hedman several times in the past six months and I think Hedman has grown taller. I still think Cowen is 6-foot-6, but Hedman is legitimately 6-foot-7.
Zdeno Chara cast the mold for the multi-talented giant years ago; now watch for Myers and Hedman to continue the trend.
Since I never like to leave readers feeling short-changed, I’ve got a fun treat for y’all.
With hockey actually being played now and the regular season nearing, the time for abstract philosophical blogs is coming to a close.
But it’s still summer weather in Toronto and straight from the Ministry of Fun, I present to you 25 hockey-based names for punk or metal bands that haven’t been used, but should.
Darren McCarty already used ‘Grinder’ and a bunch of one-hit wonder weenies took ‘Five for Fighting’ away from us, but the following are up for grabs. And if anyone wants to use any of the following, send me an mp3 – just make sure the music is loud and aggressive.
Beat ‘em in the Alley
Ryan Kennedy is a writer and copy editor for The Hockey News magazine, the co-author of the book Hockey's Young Guns and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog will appear regularly throughout the off-season, his column - The Straight Edge - on Fridays, and his prospect feature - The Hot List - on Tuesdays.
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