Brad Marchand was suspended five games for his low hit on Vancouver's Sami Salo Jan. 7. (Photo by Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)
The curious Mike Cammalleri/Rene Bourque trade turned the NHL on its ear Thursday evening, but it was just the beginning of what is expected to be a busy buildup to the Feb. 27 trade deadline. But here’s the strangest thing – I haven’t been getting the usual amount of whacked-out trade proposal questions I always expect from you folks at this time of year. Have you been gripped by the unfamiliar hand of reality or something? In any case, thanks as always for your inquiries. And don’t forget to check out other select questions I answer in The Hockey News magazine and on THN Radio.
Hey Adam, I want to ask a question I think many hockey fans have on their minds. Why did the NHL and THN make Sidney Crosby the face of hockey?
To call him “the most powerful man in hockey” as THN did in its new 100 People of Power And Influence issue and state he is one of the greatest to ever play the game is a bit premature, don't you think? He plays outstanding hockey for his age, I won't deny that, but hockey is a team sport with many humble players, often deflecting praise onto teammates. To think this sport needs a hero doesn't make sense to me.
Phil Sanborn, Clio, Mich.
We really didn’t “make” Crosby anything. He has earned his reputation himself through his on-ice play that, as we saw during his all-too-brief return in late November, clearly separates him from 99 percent of the hockey talent on the planet. And think of it this way – in any hockey town, if Crosby and a powerful puck-related person of your choice were in the same room, who would be first to be focused on and catered to?
The answer, no matter who you pick, always would be Crosby. His struggles with concussions have propelled that issue to the fore of hockey debates. His return this season was covered as The Beatles once were when they first arrived in North America. He is young enough, good enough and driven enough to be the standard-bearer for the sport for the next decade, in a way no other player can.
That doesn’t mean he doesn’t need a good team around him to be successful. Every superstar player does. And you’ll find few icons more humble and willing to share the praise than he is. He’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but this is team sports, with all the tribalism that goes along with it. You’ll never find a player whom everyone agrees deserves all the adulation.
Adam, in light of the fact that NHL scoring remains stagnant at about five goals per game; would a slight alteration in the size of the nets be something that should be considered? Journalist Al Strachan recently proposed enlarging the net six inches in width to prevent the butterfly goalies to cover the entire bottom half of the net; I also think raising the nets by five inches would also enhance scoring. These changes wouldn't even be noticeable from the stands, and I believe would make a great impact on the game. Guy Lafleur and the other greats had a lot more net to shoot at with the stand up style, smaller goalie equipment and just the smaller size of most NHL goaltenders.
Bernie Davidoff, Cheshire, Mass.
Absolutely, it should be considered. When an acceptable, if not increasingly popular offensive strategy is to take a point shot aimed squarely behind the net (in the hope the puck ricochets out the other side to a teammate ready to push it in), there’s no doubt the game has become unacceptably congested and needs to adjust.
As you point out, a relatively small increase in net size likely wouldn’t be noticeable to the average fan, but it would provide more opportunities for offense. Of course, staunch hockey traditionalists don’t like to change the calendar, let alone any element of the game, so there would be an instant outcry.
Sometimes necessity outweighs tradition. And I think the NHL is there when it comes to a few things, including the size of nets (and rinks in general).
Hey Adam. A big concern that I have is Anaheim’s goaltending problem. Jonas Hiller and Dan Ellis are hurt, so the rookie Iiro Tarkki has to play. But I don't know how long they can go with a rookie goaltender in net. My question is should the Ducks do what they did last year and pick up a part time goalie, or just wait it out until Hiller and Ellis become healthy again?
Brenten Kelly, Anaheim
At age 26 and having played the past four seasons in the Finnish Elite League, Tarkki isn’t exactly a rosy-cheeked cherub without hockey experience. But let’s face it, with the Ducks 17 points behind the eighth-place team, this season is a write-off. I say they see what they have in Tarkki for the future.
Dear Adam, Why did the NHL suspend Brad Marchand for five games because of the hit on Sami Salo? Yes, I understand that it was dirty, but five games? Really? I watched the replays several times and Salo sort of took a run at Marchand. Also why was Brad given a $152,000 fine?
Cole Stetson, Pownal, Maine
First of all, the financial figure you’re referencing is not an additional fine on top of his suspension. It’s the salary Marchand will lose by not playing five games.
As for the length of his suspension, I think that’s the absolute minimum you have to give to a player who low-bridges an opponent. You can end a player’s career by doing what Marchand did – and punishing someone by banning them for a little more than six percent of the regular season isn’t what I’d call cruel and unusual.