Illustration by Julian Yu
by Scott Rosenhek
Monday Musings is a new weekly series that I want to try out for this site. Similar to Elliotte Friedman’s “30 Thoughts,” I will talk about recent news in the hockey world and anything else that piques my interest (“anything else” will be important when the hockey news becomes sparse in the summer). Without further ado, let’s do this!
Brock Boeser’s Incredible Story
If you read my post-game report from Brock’s NHL debut, I will try my best not to repeat myself. But man, that was a fun game to watch. Boeser looked so comfortable playing alongside Bo Horvat and Sven Baertschi. He really is a breath of fresh air for a franchise that is now looking towards the future.
The setup for Boeser’s first game was a PR move for the ages. Let’s set the scene. On a Friday evening, Boeser and the University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux are playing in a playoff game in front of their fans at home (UND was the tournament’s host). This game was a one-and-done against a formidable Boston University team.
The game went to a second overtime period. UND thought they had won the game, but after a review that felt like an eternity to everyone, it was ruled no goal. Then, Boston University dashed the championship dreams of all the fans in the arena. A Boston based team ending things for a member of the Canucks, well a soon to be member.
Boeser had no time to think about the loss or the fact that his college career was over. Despite losing a game so important to his team, Boeser hopped on a plane out of Fargo, North Dakota. When he arrived in St. Paul, Minnesota, Brock Boeser signed his Entry-Level Contract with the Vancouver Canucks.
The rookie would be making his NHL debut in the arena that was only a 30-minute drive from where he grew up in Burnsville, Minnesota. On top of that, Canucks coach Willie Desjardins invited Brock’s parents into the dressing room to announce the starting lineup. Boeser would take the opening faceoff with the Sedins and then play on the Horvat line. After that, well…you know the rest.
Video from the Canucks YouTube Channel
However, Brock’s story is so much more than that. He has been through so much at such a young age. Brock’s father, Duke, has Parkinson’s Disease. Worse, he nearly lost his father in a car crash while still in high school.
Brock has lost friends to an unfortunate accident as well. The story is sad as he was playing in the Ivan Hlinka tournament in Europe and had to find out what happened over the phone. There was the game Boeser played in his final season in the USHL, where his grandfather had passed away hours before puck drop.
Despite all the tragedy, Brock is able to cope. It is not easy, but when Brock is on that ice, he is playing for all of them. All the people that he has known that have supported him along the way. It really speaks to his character and I could not be happier that Brock Boeser is a part of this organization.
For more details on the road Brock has taken to get to the year of his draft, check out this article by Michael Russo of the Star Tribune.
A Comment About “Real” vs “Fake” Fans
Taylor Perry from Canucks Army wrote an article regarding the discourse about fans on Twitter arguing over what makes someone a real fan.
Perry talked about how fans are divided in philosophy towards the ultimate goal: winning the Stanley Cup. I would recommend giving it a read as its summary of the current debate on this topic is very astute.
There are the loud supporters of Team Tank, where the idea is we need to lose as many games as possible to maximize our odds of landing a high pick in the draft. In my opinion, I can understand the strategy.
Teams such as Chicago, Pittsburgh and Los Angeles had stretches of poor seasons that led to drafting players like Patrick Kane, Sidney Crosby and Drew Doughty. All three of these teams have won multiple Stanley Cups since then.
On the other hand, there are those that can’t stomach losing on purpose, which is understandable as well. I can sympathize as it is awkward for me to hope for the opposing team to win late in the season for a few lottery percentage points.
Furthermore, I can see the apprehension of becoming the next “Edmonton Oilers” that will have to be lucky to get a generational talent like Connor McDavid. Losing season after losing season. A wealth of top picks, but no progress. It’s frustrating and requires tremendous patience.
However, one of the biggest fears is becoming stuck in limbo. Not good enough to compete for the Stanley Cup, but not bad enough to draft with a high pick in each round. Frankly, this is the fear that I have had for the Canucks since 2013 when the Sharks swept the Canucks. The Canucks were the 3rd seed and San Jose was the 6th.
I agree with Perry when he says “both sides of this debate are ‘real’ fans on opposite sides of the spectrum.” Fans want the Canucks to succeed, it’s just how we get there is what is up for debate. For myself, I would say I end up between both extremes.
I love following the draft, so picking higher is preferable. I just don’t think it is healthy to get so angry when the team wins. It can be frustrating to push away from a better chance at a top 3 pick, but building a team is not done in the first round alone.
I have always been of the mindset that having many picks in the draft increases your odds of finding special NHL players. It also depends on how well you can hit on your picks, no matter where you draft.
If you always pick in the top 5, but choose poorly, then you won’t get any help compared to the team that is competitive and can still find great talents in the latter half of each round. For now, let’s all relax.
Rule Changes I Would Like to See
Alright, it is time for me to get on my soap box and give a John Garrett-esque rant. There a few rules in the NHL that I am not thrilled about.
Rule 46.11: The Instigator
Oh boy. I really hate this rule. Now, I can understand the spirit of the rule. This is suppose to prevent a player from getting the jump on an unsuspecting player by pulling them into a fight, even if the other player is unwilling to fight.
However, many veterans of the game abuse this rule to goad rookies or hot-headed players into dropping the gloves to draw the penalty. You would hope this rule would deter people from jumping a player after a huge, but clean hit and start a fight for no reason.
Well, even with this rule in place, these pointless revenge fights happen. Now, this rule is a double-edged sword. When the officials do not call a penalty on a questionable hit, the onus is on the players to police the ice.
That is just stupid. Players should not be punished for sticking up for their teammates. I guess the only solution I would have is replacing the rule with a roughing minor. As for the punishments of multiple instigators in a season, the league could just apply that to game misconducts and major penalties.
The place for fighting in this game will be saved for another article, but this penalty will not stop fighting. If anything, it just opens the door for more stick infractions.
Rule 27.8: The Trapezoid
This rule likes to pick on goaltenders who can handle the puck very well. The rule that was added to stop Marty Turco and Martin Brodeur from acting as a third defenceman to start a rush up the ice just sucks the life out of the game. It’s so stupid that a defenceman now fishes the puck out of the corners, making himself vulnerable to charging forwards.
Here a few videos to illustrate this:
Video from Sportsnet Canada
Video from Sportsnet Canada
Video from NHLHockey95
Wouldn’t it be nice if a goaltender could intercept those pucks instead of the poor defenceman who turns his back to the forecheck? Also, if a goaltender is a poor stick handler, then the forecheckers get an easy goal.
In its place, I would prefer to get rid of the Trapezoid and replace it with the crease rule from Europe. This makes the crease much larger, extending past the NHL boundaries (like the crease in CHL rules). Play is whistled dead if the player enters the crease without possession of the puck.
I would hope these changes would result in fewer scary collisions behind the net and in the corners. Additionally, I would hope the bigger crease cuts down on players crashing the net and incidents of goaltender interference.
Rule 63.2: Shooting the puck over the glass
The last rule I want to talk about is the bane of every penalty killer’s existence. The infamous puck over the glass rule punishes defenders pinned in their own end. More times than not, these delay of game penalties are called on complete accidents.
I understand that the rule prevented defenders from just throwing the puck out of play, but I rarely see players send the puck over the glass on purpose. A team on the power play is granted a 5 on 3 because the puck just missed the glass on a clearing attempt.
I never liked this rule and I would like to see if it has led to any increases in scoring in the past. Maybe just treat a puck over the glass like an icing call. A tired team would not be able to make a change, but at least they would not be down a man for an accident.