Photo: Mark Nolan
There’s been a lot of talk recently about how to improve the game of hockey– bigger nets, smaller goalie gear, smaller goalies, more teams, and so on. But I would ask a different question: What’s so wrong with it right now?
It’s true that it’s getting harder out there for goal scorers. Last season saw the lowest league-leading scoring total since Stan Mikita could only muster up 87 points in 1967-68 (in a 74 game season). The days of Gretzky scoring more than 200 points per season are long gone.
But so are the days when only a few teams in a given year had a real chance to win it all. During the high-scoring days of 1969-1993, eight different teams won the Stanley Cup. In those 25 years, Montreal won it nine times. Edmonton won it five times. In the 20 years since, 11 different teams have won the Cup, and only Detroit has won it more than three times.
The scoring hay-day created some historic moments and essentially shaped the brand of hockey that fans expect from the stars of our game today, but I think many of those championship teams would be hard pressed to be in the top four or five in today’s NHL. The way the game is played today hardly resembles that of the ’80s Oilers, but that’s not to say that today’s NHL is worse. Far from it.