Darryl Sutter brought his brother Brent on board in the off-season to coach the Flames. (Getty Images)
There has been a renewed debate over the course of the past few weeks concerning the pros and cons of the “bag skate” as punishment for underperforming hockey teams.
Many NHLers see it as an outdated tactic that only distances a team from its management staff; others swear by it as one of the last remaining hammers (along with the distribution of ice time) coaches hold over the oft-coddled.
I’m not here to tell you who’s right and who isn’t in that regard. I’m here to propose a handful of alternative, modernized disciplinary methods that will persuade, if not frighten players into providing maximum effort throughout the season.
1. Make Them A Shower Area Towel Attendant For NHL Alumni Games.
If you really wish to reprimand or humble “spoiled” millionaire players, the easiest way is to return them to the days where they had no choice but to bow down in servitude to their elder peers.
There’s no better place to do that than a dressing room full of long-retired NHLers. I mean, if you’ve ever been to a gym where male senior citizens proudly stroll around locker rooms in their well-worn birthday suits, you’ll know there’s a trauma-to-the-eyeballs effect that never can be undone.
Still unsure of exactly what I’m hinting at? I don’t want to get too graphic, so let’s just say it’s easy to see why they call it a Grandfather Clock. Ahem.
2. Have Them Memorize The NHL Players’ Association Constitution And NHL Collective Bargaining Agreement.
Most NHLers agree they and their colleagues need to learn the ins and outs of their union – and the labor deal it signed with the league – one way or another.
Obligation seems to be the best way to do it – and if some guys balk at the prospect, a simple threat to make them their team’s NHLPA player representative should have them studying like hell.
3. Order Them To Face Off Against – And Beat – Flames GM Darryl Sutter In A Stare-Down Poker Face Contest.
There would need to be a strict time/day limit here, because the player(s) in question will be facing a Stump The Schwab-type uphill battle to win redemption against such a menacing opponent.
4. Three Words: Coyotes. Season. Tickets.
Imagine if, after a real stinker of an effort, NHL coaches could demand their lazy players purchase a pair of seats for all of Phoenix’s home games and donate them to families and/or homeless people in the Glendale area.
In doing so, not only would players be preventing additional pathetic attendance figures at Jobing.com arena, they’d also be lowering escrow rates for themselves and their fellow NHLPA members.
Call it a win-win scenario. Or a lose-win-win.
5. Give Sergei Kostitsyn Their Personal Cell Phone Number And Instruct Kostitsyn To Call The Number Any Time He’s Unsure About His Future In The NHL.
Fairly self-explanatory, this one.
6. Appoint Them To The Hockey Logic Police, Then Tell Them To Explain Why, In A League That’s Supposedly Full Of The Toughest Athletes In All Of Sports, Nobody Can Deliver A Freaking Hit Without Triggering A 10-Man Scrum That Doesn’t Break Up For At Least The Next Five Minutes.
No matter where you draw the line between clean and unclean checks on the ice, I think we can all agree the NHL is getting ridiculous (and perhaps even ridonkulous) with the constant after-the-whistle garbage.
If the NBA has a 24-second shot clock to ensure a steady progression of each game, why can’t the NHL institute a similar restriction forcing teams to line up in a timely fashion after every whistle? This and other perplexing questions should drive NHLers batty – and convince them that all-out efforts on the ice aren’t so tough after all.
Adam Proteau, co-author of the book The Top 60 Since 1967, 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.
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