Daniel Alfredsson took part in the World Hockey Summit in Toronto last night and spoke to members of the press afterwards. One of the things that he discussed during the first Hot Stove Session, moderated by Paul Romanuk, and also featuring Glenn Healy and Bob McCown, included the differences in rink sizes in Europe versus the NHL.
"I prefer the small rink. I think my game fits better on the smaller ice. But at the same time, I grew up on big ice. I think you skate more, handle the puck more, develop a more all-round game. It’s a better training ground. I like the tradition of the big ice for the Olympics, but the games in Vancouver were unbelievable, and the quality of hockey outstanding, so it’s hard to say we should always play on the bigger ice after what we saw in February.
The bigger ice produces a slower game, a game about puck possession. You can hold onto the puck, set up in the offensive end behind the net. In the NHL, it’s a straight-ahead game. It’s easier to forecheck and get on the defenceman, and you have a lot less time with the puck. It’s faster. And the NHL has done a great job with the rules, eliminating the clutching and grabbing. So that makes it faster on the small ice, and the rules have a bearing on how the size of the ice plays a role in the kind of game we play."
According to Andrew Podnieks, a frequent contributor at IIHF.com, Bob McCown disagreed, citing the increased size of players as a reason to increase the size of NHL rinks, to return to the historical size ratio of players to ice surface. It's kind of ironic that the Canadian guy favours European ice and Alfie favours North American rinks, except everyone knows that McCown is programmed to disagree with whatever point somebody else is making. But that still qualifies as Alanis-style irony.
What some are saying were slightly controversial remarks, was Healy's (and to a lesser extent, Alfredsson's) opinion that the the season opening Premiere Series have been unsuccessful. Bill Daly certainly disagreed with them, but then what else is he going to say? Alfredsson does, however, think that these games could be re-tooled to make them more meaningful.
"It’s got to be meaningful competition. It can’t be just one game before the season, but [a proposed Champions League] is a format that could help the game. The Champions League [in soccer] is hugely successful and what we would strive for."
Alfredsson also discussed his thoughts on staged fights, which Bob McCown had suggested be penalized with a misconduct or even a suspension, saying that he didn't understand the need for a player like Colton Orr to play only a few minutes per night for the sole purpose of getting into a fight. Greg Wyshynski taped the media scrum in the hallway of the Hall of Fame, after the panel had concluded. Unfortunately, I cannot seem to embed this video, but you can view it here: Daniel Alfredsson and Uwe Krupp talk at World Hockey Summit.
The panel concluded with a discussion about whether the NHL should expand to Europe, an idea that Alfredsson and the others strongly opposed.
"Can Stockholm support an NHL team? Of course, but you also have three domestic league teams in that city, and you can’t just sweep them under the rug. Each country has a league that’s important for player development, so although the NHL is the best and most powerful league, you can’t just expand to Europe like that."