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Ken Hitchcock is all for returning the red line

Mar 11, 2012, 11:32 AM EST

Ken Hitchcock Getty Images

Yesterday we heard from Red Wings coach Mike Babcock about how he would like to see the return of the red line and the two-line pass. Today, it’s Blues coach Ken Hitchcock’s turn to lend his voice to the cause.

Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal catches up with Hitchcock and finds out that his reasons for wanting to return the two-line pass run deeper than those of GMs hoping to slow down the game and limit concussions.

“With a red line it forces more of a puck-control game through the neutral zone, rather than a dumpand-chase game,” said Hitchcock. “There’s no puck-possession now, but a red line would bring back the playmaking centre. The centre who buys space and time would be back. Those nifty guys we saw before, they’re not around much anymore.”

Finding space and time on the ice where suffocating forechecking is a key defensive element these days on a crowded ice with bigger players is difficult as it is. Taking away that space by making sure no one can lurch out beyond the red line doesn’t seem to do much to help that cause.

As for the worry about the game turning like how it was before the lockout, Hitchcock says as long as they’re calling penalties for obstruction, all is well. Problem is those penalties aren’t being called as often now as they were after the lockout. It’s easy to read into the future and how this could end up causing history to repeat itself.

The idea of bringing the two-line pass back and putting the red line into play smells of taking the easy road towards trying to solve a problem in the league.

  1. paperlions - Mar 11, 2012 at 11:38 AM

    First, these coaches obviously know a kajillion times more about hockey than I ever will…..but….

    a) most head shots I’ve seen don’t have to do with quick movement of the puck through the neutral zone, at least as many are on plays along the boards or when a team reverses the puck causes traffic across the ice and blind side hits

    b) most head shots are avoidable if the players would throw body checks instead of elbows to the head

    I don’t see how a return to slow boring hockey will reduce the number of elbows to the head or blind-side hits…I’d love to have it explained to me.

  2. drewsylvania - Mar 11, 2012 at 12:03 PM

    ” a red line would bring back the playmaking centre.”

    It’d also bring back more time spent in the neutral zone. Why does anyone want that?

  3. rainyday56 - Mar 11, 2012 at 12:25 PM

    Put this on both Hitch’s and Lemaire’s head stones: “We meant well”.

  4. sheckyrimshot - Mar 11, 2012 at 1:10 PM

    nifty playmaking centers like…. eric lindros and pat lafontaine?

  5. bcjim - Mar 11, 2012 at 1:39 PM

    Start calling interference and holding. Problem solved. Refs routinely now allow these activities.

  6. bleed4philly - Mar 11, 2012 at 2:02 PM

    Do that, make the ice Olympic size, and bring back the old equipment where players are slowed down a bit, concussion problem solved, game is still exciting.

  7. jlindsay24 - Mar 11, 2012 at 3:51 PM

    Returning the redline is one thing, how about calling a penalty a penalty: http://nhloutsider.wordpress.com/2012/03/11/call-a-penalty-a-penalty-its-not-hard/

  8. tampabayirish - Mar 11, 2012 at 4:41 PM

    I am not sure that putting back the two line pass rule would reduce the number of concussions. However I do think it would make the game less exciting with fewer stretch passes. I wouldn’t mind seeing “no touch icing” being put in the rule book.

  9. dtob79 - Mar 11, 2012 at 8:17 PM

    Weird that Hitchcock would be in favor of a rule that would slow the game down to a slog.

    Just add no touch icing and leave out the red line.

  10. tmuck - Mar 12, 2012 at 12:38 PM

    The only reason I’ve heard for not having the no touch icing is it will eliminate exciting races for the puck. Does anyone really find those races so exciting that the game would be missing something without it? I could personally do with it.

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