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Retraction and action

Mellon Arena in Pittsburgh had a roof that could retract, but never did for hockey, up until a new scoreboard was installed in 1995. (Photo by A. J. Messier/Getty Images)

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Mellon Arena in Pittsburgh had a roof that could retract, but never did for hockey, up until a new scoreboard was installed in 1995. (Photo by A. J. Messier/Getty Images)

Adam’s away, so other THN staffers have graciously stepped in to answer your queries this week. Proteau returns March 26, so keep those questions coming.

Hey Adam! Do you think the NHL will ever consider building a stadium with a retractable roof, such as the ones seen in the NFL? Thanks!
Nicholas Duplessis, White River, Ont.

Nicholas,

Although it would be cool for a team to have an 'instant Winter Classic' option, the main barrier to a retractable roof for an arena would be the maintenance of NHL ice standards. Note that several of the real Winter Classics have been low-scoring affairs – that's because the ice wasn't as good as it would have been in a temperature-controlled environment. Snow is a factor and more importantly, humidity is a factor (already a challenge during the playoffs for southern teams especially).

And while NFL fans are used to adverse conditions, retractable roofs tend to take a while to close and I don't know if hockey fans would enjoy watching their team play in the rain. Ironically, Pittsburgh's Mellon Arena was originally constructed with a retractable roof, but it was never opened for hockey and the extra weight of a new scoreboard in 1995 ended the use of the architectural feature. – RK

Why don't they just suspend the guys who commit head shots – or any other intentional act to injure – for the same length of time his victim is out of action? Wouldn't that correct the situation?
Terry Fraser, London, Ont.

Hi Terry,

You’re certainly not the first person to suggest this form of justice and there does seem to be something very simple and just about it, doesn’t there?

The main deterrent for this course of action happens when you get a star player who makes a dangerous play on an average player and ends up hurting him. Teams will use anything they can to gain an advantage on a foe and it’s long been thought clubs would be tempted to keep a mid-range player out of the lineup longer than necessary if it meant extending the suspension of a star player. This could really come into play if the teams were meeting in a playoff series.

So while it does seem like a nice notion, don’t expect this form of justice any time soon. – RD

As a labor relations officer who looks after the needs of the association's members of a post-secondary institution, I am wondering what is the NHL players’ association's position on head shots? Do they not have a role in protecting their members? The only union position I heard was that the players’ association would be filing a grievance if Matt Cooke was suspended.

Maybe the NHLPA should impose some sort of sanction on Matt Cooke as a union looking after the brotherhood, even if the employer refuses to look after its employees. Marc Savard is also a member of the union, who in this case needs protection from his fellow union member.
Joe McFadyen, Edmonton

Joe,

The NHLPA deals with both sides of the aisle every time one player injures another. Yes, the union exists to advocate for its members’ protection. But that protection is really about player rights. The union would have grieved a Cooke suspension because Cooke did not break any rule with his hit on Savard. It was a predatory, reckless play, but not an illegal one. Not yet, anyway.

While no one would suggest the union is happy with one of its members injuring another via such a bodycheck, if there’s no rule against it, then Cooke did nothing deserving of a suspension.

Historically, the union has existed to make sure the league and its owners treat the players fairly, whether in contract negotiations, creating a safe working environment or whatever. Only recently has it become part of the rule-creating process.

The union’s position on head shots and blindside hits such as Cooke’s, like most people’s, is that it would like them to stop. But not necessarily if it means suspensions and lost pay for players. The union will advocate for a specific type of rule and language, one that protects its members on the ice from each other, but also one that protects them off the ice from what it might consider over-zealous discipline. – JG   

Hi Adam. The New Jersey Devils have been doing pretty well this season; do you think they have a chance of winning the Stanley Cup? Thanks.
Danny Fing, Toronto

Hi Danny. Though I wouldn’t put the Devils in amongst the favorites (Washington, Pittsburgh, San Jose and Chicago) heading into the post-season, you certainly can’t overlook any team that has the greatest goalie in the game’s history between the pipes.

As New Jersey showed in a 5-2 win over the Penguins Wednesday, the Jacques Lemaire-led squad can lockdown one of the league’s most potent offenses and, with weapons such as Zach Parise and Ilya Kovalchuk, pop a goal or five in a tightly contested tilt; the exact style of hockey you’ll find in the NHL’s second season.

The first objective for the Devils should be to win the Atlantic, giving themselves home-ice advantage through the first two rounds and avoiding a possible second round matchup with the Pens or Caps. However, they must also consider resting 37-year-old Martin Brodeur, who has played more games (65) than any other NHL goalie this season. – EF

Any word what the Springfield Falcons will do next year for a team affiliation?
Harold Bruce Seldin, Springfield, Mass.

Hey Harold,

It sounds as though the Blue Jackets are close to striking a deal with the American League Falcons.

Columbus GM Scott Howson was an assistant GM in Edmonton when the Oilers struck a deal to affiliate with the Falcons, so he would have a familiar working relationship with Falcons GM Bruce Landon.

Both sides want a short-term affiliation deal as well and Columbus has a fairly good system, making the playoffs five times and missing four during its affiliation with Syracuse.

Neither side has confirmed any deal as of yet, but these are complex negotiations. However, Landon told the Columbus Post-Dispatch the Falcons have been in talks with a few teams and expect an announcement within the next five to seven days. – RB

Ask Adam appears Fridays on TheHockeyNews.com. Proteau also answers readers' questions in every issue of The Hockey News magazine and on The Hockey News Radio Show on XM Radio channel 204. To send us your question or comment, click HERE.

Adam Proteau is writer and columnist for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Mondays, his Ask Adam feature appears Fridays and his column, Screen Shots, appears Thursdays.

For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.

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