May 13, 2013, 1:15 PM EST
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.
Mar 8, 2014, 1:58 PM EST
Guess who holds that record?
Mar 8, 2014, 1:16 PM EST
The Capitals drafted him in 2010, but he’s been playing in the KHL.
Mar 8, 2014, 12:58 PM EST
It will be his first start with Washington.
Mar 8, 2014, 12:15 PM EST
They were key players in Finland’s bronze medal run in the 2014 Winter Olympics.
Mar 8, 2014, 11:32 AM EST
The Lightning are trying to get out of a rut just days after trading Martin St. Louis.
Mar 8, 2014, 10:40 AM EST
He’s open to continuing his career as a backup goaltender.
Mar 8, 2014, 9:51 AM EST
Ottawa has been underwhelming this season.
Mar 8, 2014, 9:03 AM EST
He hasn’t taken a penalty yet this season.
Mar 8, 2014, 2:05 AM EST
Marc-Andre Fleury was busy in this one.
Mar 8, 2014, 1:11 AM EST
On a special night for one of the franchise’s greats.
Mar 8, 2014, 12:24 AM EST
This is just…sick. But awesome, too.
Mar 8, 2014, 12:05 AM EST
Played nine seasons in Calgary.
Mar 7, 2014, 11:19 PM EST
Last shift came late in first period.
Mar 7, 2014, 11:03 PM EST
Goals, goals and more goals in this one.
Mar 7, 2014, 10:28 PM EST
His first NHL start since Feb. 8.
Mar 7, 2014, 10:02 PM EST
Remember that blockbuster trade the other day?
Mar 7, 2014, 9:27 PM EST
Just keeps on going.
Mar 7, 2014, 9:04 PM EST
Happened 10 years ago Saturday.
Mar 7, 2014, 8:26 PM EST
Ottawa in a battle to make the playoffs.
Mar 7, 2014, 7:22 PM EST
He’s one of the top scorers for AHL Utica.
- Washington finally signs top prospect Kuznetsov 8
- Roberto Luongo records the shutout in first game back with Panthers 27
- Steve Moore remains shocked, disgusted about Todd Bertuzzi attack 63
- Canucks’ Kassian gets three games for boarding Dillon 27
- TGIF: Why Lightning fans can be upset with St. Louis 32
- Goalie nods: Luongo’s first game back with Panthers, Neuvirth makes Sabres debut 14
- Report: Kuznetsov terminated KHL deal, headed to Washington 21
- Canucks’ Bieksa: ‘If this isn’t rock bottom, I don’t know what is’ 34
- Luongo has Twitter fun at Canucks’ expense 36
- Sabres spoil Callahan’s Lightning debut, Stamkos’ return 7
- Canucks trade Luongo to Panthers (93)
- BLOCKBUSTER: Lightning trade St. Louis to Rangers for Callahan (82)
- Kings make splash, acquire Gaborik from Columbus (72)
- Report: Canucks want center, top prospect and first-rounder for Kesler (68)
- Sabres announce Pat LaFontaine resigns as president of hockey operations (66)