Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Well, It's Either The Rules or Netminders Were Just Born Crazy.

Proof that I will come up with ANY excuse to connect my other hobbies to hockey: "They boasted of injuries and wore their scars with pride, and they reserved their special admiration for mutilation: a boy with a finger missing could be their king." - Ken Follet, The Pillars of the Earth.

Is it just me, or does that describe perfectly hockey players' attitude towards their bumps, bruises and injuries? Yes, I found a hockey link in modern literature. To refresh, going without hockey for long periods of time is just not good for some of us.

Good for him, bad for us: Yardbarker has put out their prediction that it is not a question of whether Nino Niederreiter will play for the New York Islanders this year, the question is how much he will contribute when he does. Most excellent for him, sad for Portland Winterhawks fans who were spoiled by having him all to our little selves for a whole season. Still, I think I can safely send best wishes to one of our favorite players on behalf of my fellow fans. And get ready, Long Island, something special is coming your way. The pleasure of watching Nino was only ours for one year. May it be yours for many more to come.

But not to worry Hawks fans: We've got 10 NHL draftees in total, and most of the others will likely be back next season. Plenty of opportunity to partake of the NHL's future before it leaves us. My personal picks for breakouts this season: Brad Ross, Riley Boychuk and if he stays with us, Luke Walker. The bet is on that Brad's penalty minutes will not exceed his weight (as they did this year), Riley will turn into a scoring machine and Luke will start scoring more goals on the first try instead of the third.

And since I can at least see the hockey season from here: These are my predictions for comebacks, players to watch, etc.

-- Team best poised for a comeback: Tampa Bay Lightning. Why? Ummm...'cause Steve Yzerman is as much of a genius off the ice as he was on it.

-- Players most likely to make a comeback, because let's face if, if they don't, they have to answer to Mario Lemieux, Ray Shero and Sidney Crosby: Max Talbot and Evgeni Malkin.

-- Former junior players to watch: Chris Francis, now playing in the AHL for the Springfield Falcons. Stefan Schneider, who has signed with the Vancouver Canucks. Yes, both were Portland Winterhawks. Duh.

It's all about the goalies: Section 5, Penalties. Other Penalties. Rule 590, Penalties for Goalkeepers. Rule 591, Goalkeeper Beyond the Center Red Line. Rule 592, Goalkeeper Going to the Player's Bench During Stoppage of Play. Rule 593, Goalkeeper Leaving the Crease During an Altercation.

In case you're wondering: No, they can't do any of these things without penalty.

Hey look, it's a rule about a rule: Rule 590 is just a list of the penalties for goalkeepers, ranging from Penalty Shot Procedure to Throwing a Stick or Any Object.

591: If a goalkeeper participates in pay in any manner when he is beyond the center red line, he shall be assessed a minor penalty.

It's also a minor penalty for leaving the crease during an altercation or going to the player's bench for an reason other than to be replaced or during a time out.

Morals of the story:

The game: You'd think the penalties for goalkeepers would be a short list, and rarely violated, seeing as how if they leave their little 4 x 6 space they're also in danger of letting a shot in. But there is really very little the goalkeepers are allowed to do without penalty. At least in the IIHF and European hockey worlds, there is no trapezoid behind the goal fencing them in. But that's about it. Otherwise... they leave the crease, they're toast.

Life: In life, we don't need a rule to keep us trapped in a very small world, with very little room for personal freedom and living the way we want. We do it to ourselves. I've said it before, and I'll say it again. Too many people live lives of loud fears and silent dreams. Don't be one of them. End of rule.

Up next: The completion of section 5 with Rule 594, Goalkeeper Dropping the Puck on the Goal Netting. Rule 595, Protection of Goalkeepers.

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