Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Burke on Prime Time Sports

Anaheim GM Brian Burke was on the radio here in Toronto earlier today and the interview's been archived on the Fan 590's site.

At one point, Burke was asked about making the ice surface bigger: "I went to a Swedish Elite League game once where the shots on goal were 18 to 12. At the end of the game. And you could count the body contact on your thumb.

"I would rather watch a tree grow than this game that I went to."

Good stuff.



At 1:12 a.m., January 09, 2008, Blogger Nick said...

I hesitate to believe anything that comes out of Burke's mouth, the immense playing field is one of my complaints about soccer, so I guess I can see that complaint holding water even though I've never seen one of those European hockey games

At 2:26 a.m., January 09, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

For once I agree with Burke. Euro hockey is unwatchable.

At 3:07 a.m., January 09, 2008, Anonymous Marl said...

I see his point. I've seen two or three Swedish league games and they were extremely boring, slow speed (meaning slow progression of play, not slow skating), no physical element, systems that make 90's Devils look like 80's Oilers... To exaggerate a bit.

I believe the Swedish ice surfaces are the largest even in Europe, so the lack of intensity may have something to do with that.

I disagree with "Euro hockey is unwatchable", though. I've seen a couple of games from Russian, Finnish, Swiss and German leagues and all of those except the German ones were quite entertaining. Not as entertaining as your average NHL game, but I'd be OK with watching those three leagues.

I'll readily admit, though, that I'm no expert of these leagues and the amount of games that I've seen is too small to know how accurate my views are, because you can't draw an accurate average from 2-5 games per league.

At 9:14 a.m., January 09, 2008, Blogger Adam C said...

The problem with the European ice surface is it's too wide; the boards are far away from the scoring areas. Anyone have any thoughts about what effect making the ice longer but still the same width would have on the NHL?

At 11:46 a.m., January 09, 2008, Blogger Dennis Prouse said...

Burke is right, and you could even go a step further. I think you could actually make an argument for making some rinks smaller, believe it or not.

Think of the games back in the old Boston Garden, Chicago Stadium, or even the Aud in Buffalo. All of those rinks were smaller than the regulation 200 x 85, and there sure weren't many boring games back in the day in the Boston Garden. Less room makes it tougher to trap, and creates more turnovers and scoring opportunities. I even saw this as a player and an official in my younger days. There are two rinks in the Lower Mainland that are smaller than regulation, and when you had a game there it was always a good one -- fast paced and hard hitting.

At 12:25 p.m., January 09, 2008, Blogger Baroque said...

Several players who have played in Europe have said the same thing - a larger rink makes for less contact, because there is so much room an opposing player can't close on a puck-carrier as quickly.

Brett Hull actually advocated (in a way) making the rinks smaller. His argument was that if what you wanted was increased hitting, then logically anything that would increase the chances and opportunity of contact would act towards that end. Same number of players in a smaller area means increased player density, and a greater opportunity for hits as well as takeaways.

I wonder if you could have the same effect by increasing the number of players on the ice - toss in a forth forward or third defenseman for each team? (I'm not advocating any such thing, just wondering.)

At 1:11 p.m., January 09, 2008, Anonymous Kevin Forbes said...

Something worth mentioning in this debate is something I first picked up when talking to some QMJHL guys about Chicoutimi's rink (It's Olympic sized).

The argument was that with the size of the players today and their strength and their speed, that's why we're seeing so many injuries like concussions and knees and so on, where in previous eras, that was unheard of.
A solution was posed that by increasing the size of the ice surface, there wouldn't be as crowded on the ice and reduce the amount of injuries.

It's a double-edged sword and just like a few of the comments have said, I, too, am a fan of hard, fast, gritty hockey. But also, having stars on the IR for half the season isn't a solution either.

I only mention it because I found it interesting when it was brought up.


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