Being big on defence
Maybe it's been watching Tobias Enstrom — all 5-foot-9, 170 pounds of him — emerge as Atlanta's best defenceman, but I've been wondering if all we've heard about the 'new' NHL is actually true. Are more smaller players in the game?
I'm afraid I didn't have time to do anything more than a quick study, looking at 2000-01 and this season, but the figures suggest a trend (if only a modest one).
Defencemen are shrinking.
Avg. height: 6'1.67"
Avg. weight: 209.84
Avg. height: 6'1.61"
Avg. weight: 208.48
Seven years is a pretty long time, long enough for the general growing trend (i.e. athletes everywhere getting bigger) to have an effect, but instead we've seen blueliners get a bit smaller according to official league data.
I didn't have a chance to check every season in the interim to see if this was a change that happened only postlockout, but maybe that's something I can get around to later in the week.
One position where we know players are growing is in goal, something I looked at last season.
UPDATE It also seems there are more smaller blueliners just from the numbers:
Defencemen listed under 6-feet: