By: Andrew Thompson Twitter: @godwentwhoops
Once again, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman seems to have it out for the players. This year, the league decided to strictly enforce rules that weren’t always a serious priority for referees. The league front office said it was done to speed up the game. So far, the new rules enforcement seems to have had the opposite effect.
The Boston Bruins are adapting to the rules, but it’s been a bit of a learning curve for the Black and Gold. The B’s have taken 20 penalties during the first three games of the preseason. Thankfully, Boston’s perfect penalty kill has kept the Bruins undefeated so far.
Bruins forwards Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron have come forward to offer their two cents on the new rules. The new rules have certainly affected their player early on this year. On Thursday night, Bergeron went just 9-for-18 in the face-off circle in the B’s 2-1 win over the Flyers.
Marchand, as usual, pulled no punches in his comments. “The slashing [penalties] is one thing, but this face-off rule is an absolute joke,” said Boston’s Ball of Hate. That’s how you ruin the game of hockey by putting that in there. They’re going to have to do something about that because we can’t play all year like that.”
“Basically you have to be a statue. You can’t move. It takes away from the center iceman. I think there was even a play [in the game I was watching] last night where a penalty was called on a 4-on-4 before play on the first penalty had even started because of a draw.
“That’s just a joke. I don’t know how you expect guys to step back, guys are excited to get in there and help out there centerman. I know they’re trying to add a little more offense to the game [with power plays] and make it more exciting, but you don’t want to ruin the game. It’s frustrating for everyone. There are ways to make the game better, but this isn’t one of them. We might as well start throwing D-men in there to take draws.”
Marchand’s got a point here. The pace of the game has slowed down. But on a different tack, wouldn’t you just love to see Zdeno Chara in the face-off dot just once this season?
Bergeron was more diplomatic in his response to the rule changes.
“I think that the faceoff is definitely an adjustment,” offered Bergeron. “I think that the faceoff is a skill and you work your whole career to develop that and you work on your hand-eye and timing and everything and try to take that away.
“You have to adapt, I guess. It’s something that I’ll definitely do, but I don’t know if I’m a huge fan.”
If I didn’t know better, I’d swear that Gary Bettman and the Board of Governors (led by Boston owner Jeremy Jacobs) are doing all they can to push for another lockout. Refusing to allow the players to play in the Olympics is bad enough. Now with all this nit-picking over the rules, it will only further sour relations between the league and the players union.