May 13, 2013, 1:15 PM EDT
Like speedboats among freighters, the majority of undersized hockey players who made it to the NHL did so because they were quicker and more agile than their larger, more powerful counterparts.
Because according to Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock, the freighters of the NHL aren’t so slow and cumbersome anymore.
“The difference that I’ve seen in the last three years is, all the big players can skate like the little guys,” said Hitchcock, per Sportsnet’s Mark Spector.
And as if that wasn’t troubling enough for diminutive types, at least one general manager believes the way the game is played (and called) has started once again to favor the bigger player, as it did before the 2004-05 lockout.
“When I took this job, we decided on a style of play that resulted in great success,” said Canucks GM Mike Gillis last week after his team was swept out of the playoffs. “And clearly, the landscape has changed and we have to address those changes. We don’t have a choice. It’s not something I necessarily agree with. But that’s what we face, and that’s what you have to do.
“We have to make the changes and adjustments necessary to compete for a Stanley Cup. It’s my intention to do it and recognize what’s going on and make sure we have a team that’s better equipped.”
Gillis knows better than anyone that the last two teams to win the Stanley Cup did it with size and strength, since both the Bruins and Kings beat Vancouver.
Not that Boston and Los Angeles are bereft of skill; obviously, they aren’t. But there’s no question they favor a heavier, more physical game.
The worry for Canucks fans is that Gillis is overreacting based on a small sample size. What if the Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup this year? Chicago finished the regular season ranked 30th in hits. Patrick Kane isn’t a giant. Neither is Jonathan Toews. The ‘Hawks are a great team because they have the puck all the time, and they know what to do with it.
Of course, Kane was drafted first overall, while Toews went third. They aren’t your typical players. Nor, for that matter, is Tampa Bay’s Martin St. Louis, the league’s top scorer. The reason he’s such a great story is because not many small, undrafted players do what he’s done.
Perhaps Gillis feels that, absent a blue-chip draft position, getting bigger and stronger is his best option in an NHL where big and strong doesn’t have to mean big and slow anymore.
- Bettman: NHL won’t expand ‘just to fulfill somebody’s notion of symmetry 7
- Report: Johansen lowers demands, but not low enough 30
- Injuries piling up as preseason schedule begins 11
- Report: Fedorov denies contract offer was made to Johansen 8
- Report: Johansen has gotten no shortage of KHL offers 43
- Update: Drouin out with upper body injury, not expected to miss preseason 1
- Report: NHL officials to participate in preseason without new CBA 1
- Evander Kane: I know I can score 50 goals 16
- ‘C’-less Thornton comes out swing against Wilson’s ‘tomorrow team’ talk 19
- Joe Sakic’s now general manager in name too 6
- Heeeeeere’s Johnny! Davidson shreds Johansen’s agent for ‘baffling, nonsensical’ contract demands (65)
- Jackets reveal Johansen offers — including an eight year, $46M deal (55)
- Will the NHL publicize divers? (48)
- No icing on the PK? The USHL will see how that looks (43)
- Report: Johansen has gotten no shortage of KHL offers (43)