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Shanahan takes initiative to return spark to the game
By TOM JONES
Published December 19, 2004
Let's dream for a moment and pretend the NHL lockout gets solved soon enough that we have a hockey season.
Any hockey is better than no hockey, but those blinded by the Lightning's Stanley Cup run might not have noticed that the game is in trouble. The television contract in the United States is awful, poker on television is threatening to become more popular and the product, most hockey fans would agree, is not what it was.
Every game, it seems, is 1-0 after two periods, and a 4-3 game is considered a shootout.
These are all reasons why Detroit's Brendan Shanahan called a "Hockey Summit" this month in Toronto. Included on his panel were Lightning coach John Tortorella, several players including the Leafs' Mats Sundin, hockey analysts such as John Davidson and Glenn Healy, television executives from the United States and Canada and former players.
During his summit, Shanahan proposed several ideas to make the game better, including:
Shootouts to decide ties.
Minor penalties of one minute instead of two in overtime.
The experimental rules being used in the AHL this season such as no-touch icing, wider blue lines, pushing the net back 2 feet and restricting the goalie's ability to play the puck in a designated zone behind the net.
A puck shot directly into the stands in the defensive zone is a two-minute penalty for all skaters, not just the goalie.
Shanahan hopes to sit down with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and union chief Bob Goodenow once the labor situation is solved.
Most of the discussion centered around goalies' pads being too big and obstruction, but haven't we heard this before? Each year, the league promises to crack down on obstruction and every year, the enforcement lasts a month, then goes back to anything goes.
Give Shanahan credit for recognizing the game's troubles and wanting to do something to solve them. He even paid for his guests' travel and stay in a swanky hotel. The least the league could do is give him the time of day when the lockout is over.
"In the end, it's really up to them," Shanahan said. "We hope they see value in this."
ALL CANADA: Canada's TSN recently polled Internet voters, asking them to select Canada's all-time world junior team. More than 350,000 votes selected the following team:
Goalies: Marc Denis (1996-97) and Jose Theodore (1996).
Defense: Nolan Baumgartner (1995-96), Jay Bouwmeester (2000-02), Patrice Brisebois (1990-91), Bryan McCabe (1994-95), Scott Niedermayer (1991-92), Dion Phaneuf (2004), Chris Phillips (1996-97).
Forwards: Jason Allison (1994-95), Jason Botterill (1994-96), Mike Cammalleri (2001-02), Shayne Corson (1985-86), Eric Daze (1995-96), Theoren Fleury (1987-88), Wayne Gretzky (1978), Jarome Iginla (1996), Paul Kariya (1992-93), Martin Lapointe (1991-93), Eric Lindros (1990-92), Marty Murray (1994-95) and Jason Spezza (2000-02).
TOURNEY TIME: Speaking of the World Juniors, the tournament begins Christmas Day. This year's tournament is in Grand Forks, home of the University of North Dakota. The Canadians are considered the favorites, and many believe this could be Canada's best team ever. The Canadians are led by Sydney Crosby, considered a can't-miss prospect along the lines of Lindros and Mario Lemieux. Brent Sutter will coach Canada.
Only one Lightning prospect is in the tournament: the Czech Republic's Zbynek Hrdel, a center taken in the ninth round of the 2003 draft.
USA, USA: The Americans won their first World Junior gold medal last year, upsetting the Canadians. Eight players return, including goalie Al Montoya. He alone could make the difference. Last year, the University of Michigan goalie who was drafted sixth overall by the Rangers was named best goalie of the tournament after making 136 saves in six games for a 1.33 goals-against average and a .944 save percentage.
Minnesota-Duluth coach Scott Sandelin, last year's NCAA Division I coach of the year, will coach the Americans.
TROUBLEMAKER: Donald Brashear is up to his old tricks. The NHL tough guy got himself kicked out of a Quebec semipro league. Playing for a team called Radio X, Brashear was suspended for the rest of the season after he got into a fight with Glen Kjernisted of Thetford Mines Prolab during the Dec. 7 game. League officials say Brashear repeatedly punched Kjernisted in the face while he was lying on the ice.
Teammate and another NHL enforcer, Sylvain Blouin (formerly of the Wild and Canadiens), was suspended 12 games for the same brawl.
Information from other news organizations was used in this report.