2002-03-09 / Sports

Back In Business A Metro Hockey Update

By Andrei Petrovitch

Back In Business
A Metro Hockey Update
By Andrei Petrovitch

The Olympics were pretty cool eh?

After a disastrous initial attempt in the 1998 Nagano winter games, the NHL/Olympic pollination has succeeded, with three teams stocked entirely with professional players finishing in the top three spots. Team Canada won the gold medal with a 5-2 win over Team USA, while Russia beat the underdog Belarussians for the Bronze. The dreaded "Olympic Hangover" has so failed to materialize, as players such as Detroit’s Brendan Shanahan (2 goals vs. Tampa Bay), San Jose’s Teemu Selanne (one goal and assist vs. Nashville), Colorado’s Jose Sakic (goal and an assist vs. Calgary) and Calgary’s Jerome Iginla, (hat trick and an assist Monday vs. the Rangers) have proven.

Meet the new (Assistant) Boss…Same as the old Boss…

Talk about bizarre: with assistant coach John Cunniff undergoing cancer treatment, the Devils have brought back Larry Robinson to help out Kevin Constantine…who replaced Robinson as head coach a month ago! While it is the feeling of some us here at the Wave that Robinson should not have been fired in the first place, it is perhaps appropriate for him to serve in this capacity after all. Robinson has been placed in charge of team defense, a position that he played extremely well during the ‘70s.

Without the headache of having to run the entire bench during games, Robinson can focus on what he does best and teach young blueliners such as Colin White, Mike Commodore and Andrei Zyuzin how to mind their own end of the ice. Although the otherwise stingy Devils surrendered 3 goals in last week’s win over the Rangers, the awkward coaching setup now employed by the team could work. Stay tuned….

News’ Dellapina goes offside

In his February 26th column, Daily News hockey scribe John Dellapina argues that removing the red line to open up the game is a bad idea. According to Dellapina, "players who can’t make 100 foot tape passes (i.e., the majority of the NHL) would try anyway, creating an icing-fest unlike bad college soccer" (p.70, paragraph 14).

First, the semantics. Icing in college SOCCER? That’s like saying Team USA had a home court advantage. Second, inferior players already try to make long bomb passes, or deliberately ice the puck. So what? If anything, aimless passing such as that feared by Dellapina would be more detrimental to the team doing it, as it would mean more face-offs in their zone and more chances for the opposing team to gain possession. Besides, it would only matter if, as he suggests, icing be called automatically without the defending team having to race back for the puck.

Dellapina also argues that conservative coaches would have their defenseman stay back at the blue line for fear of a counter attack. Yeah, so? They do that NOW! Ever see the neutral-zone trap? If anything, the advantages- more breakaways, more odd man rushes- make the removal of the red line a worthy experiment. At worse, the level of offense would stay the same.

Peca worth his weight in Gold

Islanders captain and Team Canada gold medallist Mike Peca demonstrated during last week’s 3-3 tie with the Boston Bruins why he is GM Mike Milbury’s best off-season acquisition. Peca scored two goals, with his second tally tying the game with only 1.4 seconds left. Despite goofing up royally near the end of the Isles’ 4-2 loss to the Penguins on Monday night (he accidentally passed the puck into his team’s empty net – ‘doh!), Mike Peca is still considered the top contender for the Selke trophy, which is awarded annually to the league’s best two-way player.

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