WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 08: Alexander Semin #28 of the Washington Capitals goes after the puck during the second period against the Tampa Bay Lightning at the Verizon Center on March 8, 2012 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
[Warning: much of this post is sarcastic.]
Shot blocking is the new evil in the NHL. It's apparently preventing teams from scoring, and thus limiting the masses' entertainment value. I guess you've always got to have something to rail against, but this one seems more than a little silly.
Due to that, everything's gone back to the bad-old-days of clutching and grabbing - though, no one's really being clutched at or grabbed. Regardless, it's slowing down the game; it's making the game boring. Or, so they say.
Then there's the whole "defense is killing the game" thing again. Despite the old saying of "defense wins championships" - which we've all seen over and over again as being pretty much true. But, no, that's not good enough. Scoring has to win championships, not boring defense.
And so the hockey media-driven narrative goes on....
How about this for a solution? Let's just eliminate the position of defenseman, since they're not doing anyone any good anyways. Shot blocking? Who needs it. Stopping opposing forwards from scoring? That kills the game. Preventing players from running your goalie? Can't do that because that's "interference" or "holding".
The problem isn't that defense makes the game boring. It's the defensemen make the game boring. So, let's just be done with all of this tip-toeing around the issue and call it like it is. If you want to make the game exciting, then just convert the defensemen to forwards and be done with it.
It's not as if they can do their jobs, anyways. They're not allowed to clear the crease anymore, and they're not allowed to stop opposing forwards coming into their zone. All they can do now is shot-block, but even that's become something that no one wants. So, really, what's left for defensemen to do?
Sure, defensemen are allowed to set up offensive plays and keep pucks in the zone. But that can be a forward's job as well. How many power play units are four or five forwards these days?
It's not that no one wants defense, it's that they don't want defensemen. It's a position that the NHL is gradually chipping away into nothing with their constant rule changes designed to "open up" the game. And for those traditionalists who want to preserve the game as it was when they were kids, that ought to frighten them. But I'm sure that it doesn't.
Most people only see scoring and goaltending, so I'm sure the majority hasn't even noticed how limited the position of defenseman has become over the years. If a team wins, it's often because of the goal-scoring forwards. If a team loses, it's often because of poor goaltending. The defense is usually left out in limbo with little recognition and little interest.
So, really, what's everyone waiting for? Let's just abolish the position entirely since it's obviously helping make games tedious, low-scoring affairs. It's not like anyone cares about them, anyways.
Who needs another Eddie Shore, Bobby Orr, Ray Bourque, or Nicklas Lidstrom, after all, right?