Commentary, opinion and news on the world of hockey.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Strachan, as in Al


Those of you who are regular visitors to my humble little sports blog have probably figured out my impressions of Al Strachan's columns. Usually, the anti-NHL/Bettman rhetoric that he churns out burns my eyes. It's not hard to determine which side of the dispute he aligns himself with, and the completely biased manner in which he expresses his disdain for the NHL and the owners is my main reason for complaint.

But, on the rare occasion, heavy emphasis on the rare, he comes up with some material that actually makes some sense and is surprisingly gentle on the eyes and blood pressure. At the very least, his latest effort offers an interesting perspective on the state of the game.
It's easy to assume that because there are 30 teams, the talent pool is diluted. But that assumption fails to take into account that in recent years, the talent pool has grown at a level far greater than that of previous years -- and far greater than the rate of expansion.

It might not be easy to see it on a year-to-year basis, but if you think of the game 10 years ago and compare it to today's, you'll find that the players are much bigger, yet they're faster, stronger and in far better condition.

If you think the talent is diluted, name a player who doesn't skate well. Name a player who doesn't have a good shot. Or can't pass. Even the enforcers can do all those things. If they can't, they don't stay in the NHL. The talent level is simply too high.
To be quite honest, I'd never really thought of things in the manner that he has suggested, and I actually agree that he has some valid points there. So, this is me officially giving Al some credit. If he consistently targeted such topics, rather than his favorite past-time, Bettman Bashing, perhaps myself, and many others, would be much more receptive to his insight.

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