The sport of the great white north, where locals gather around a nice steaming hot, 20 minute fresh, pot of Timmies coffee and watch their players go to work.
In a day and age in which we involve the Matt Cooke's into our most precious league, and have guys like Neil, Lucic and Thornton to bring down some sense of physicality to the game, we often get lost in the hits, injuries and bruises.
But why are these guys necessary? Who in their right mind would employ these guys? Well, it's because of the skill that has been raised throughout the years, the decades, and Atlanta teams gone and past.
We now have players like Martin St Louis, at only 5'8 flashes around the rink like he can't be seen by even the largest of scopes. This little train engine that could, he did. He busted into the league unlike any other, and set straight those Nay-Sayers that he CAN play the game, and how? Because he was fast, because he had those soft little hands that get around the opposition and with such ease.
That's only one case out of many, you say? Well, how about in our own backyards. EK65, Erik Karlsson, that Swede only behind Alfie in our minds. Standing at a respectable 6 feet, he's a defenseman with only 175 pounds on him. Rough and tumble? I think not. He was touted to be a garbage pick, a nobody that may not even play in the NHL!!
Too bad he did. And he did with some growing pains, as most players would. But just after a few years in the NHL, what does he do? He wins top honors for a D-man and takes home the Norris trophy in style, spotting 78 points good enough to tie with Patrick Elias for 10th in the league.
So, how do you stop these guys? You need those rough and tumble lines, you need the "Do you even lift? " kind of lines to try and stop the skill that these little guys bring. I think that about sums it up, right?
You can try to bring in the enforcers, you can try to pump up your image(here's looking at you, Toronto). But you cannot just stop what is pure, indefinable skill. Skill that has given St Louis EIGHT seasons of 70+ points, six of those in a row, and 4 of them hitting 90 points or more. That same skill is how Karlsson uses his speed to take away the puck, make the plays, and calmly ere away from the hits that most players will try and blow.
If we try to address every skill player in this league with another goon, what will we become? As much as I hate the Penguins, it did hurt the League when Crosby was out, and it hurts the league now, that Karlsson hasn't been able to show off his skills, his breakouts, and highlight reel goals. The game needs these players, not only to be able to win the games, but because it's what we're born to be accustomed to. If we keep going in the direction that we need more enforcers to stop these players, all you will see is a bunch of Matt Cooke's being hired to throw the punch, or in this season, the stomp.
So let's 'stomp' out these plays, let's let the players bring back the game we love and let's score some soft, swift goals.
Praise Alfie and GO SENS GO!!