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Tuesday, October 18, 2005
Passing of the Guard
With the retiring of Brett Hull this past week, and SportCentre stories of NHL greats like Steve Yzerman, Luc Robitaille and Alexander Mogilny on the verge of taking the same step because they just can't keep up anymore, it has become absolutely necessary for me to write this post. Folks, as much as we hate to admit it, the new NHL (or myNHL) does not allow the aging veteran one more year in his career. Does this make you sad? At first I was very upset over the thought of my childhood heroes leaving the game I grew up watching. These guys taught me as much about the game as my own dad. But the more I think about the catalyst that is causing guys like RIck Nash, Jerome Iginla and Patrick Marleau to excel to new heights in their game, is just that. Hockey has become "their game".
Players are bigger, stronger, faster and more skilled today than at any other time in the history of hockey. Watching Eric Lindros dominate the slot. Making an effort not to blink as Marian Gaborik starts a rush for fear that I might miss it. Even the safety of the protective mesh at the end of the rink reminds me that hockey has changed...for the good. But what this has led to is a changing of the guard.
This change has been a slow one however, the new rule changes in today's NHL are allowing for the skilled players to play, and the unskilled players are left in the dust. The unskilled though, also includes our fading heroes. Sadly, it's true, but I have always been a believer that nothing in life needs to be drug out longer than it's purpose intended it. When Brett Hull hung up the skates last week, I gained respect for the man. He could have plugged through the season and been a hinderance to his team, but instead he recognized that he couldn't do it anymore and retired. The way it should be. Was Mark Messier satisfied the last five years of his career filling the role as a third or fourth line checking centre? That's a pretty far step for his glory days alongside Wayne in Edmonton. I tend to think his pride motivated him more than his love of the game, but that's just my opinion.
Regardless of how you feel about the new NHL, things are changing. Guys like Alexander Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby, Dion Phaneuf, Brad Richards, Jeff Carter, Ilya Kovalchuk, Rick Nash, Marian Gaborik, Giblert Brule, Vincent Lecavelier and the dozens of other young, talented hockey players in the NHL are beginning to take over hockey at all levels, from the NHL, to the IIHF, to the Olympics. Get excited people, because myNHL is an exciting NHL, where only the best compete, and only the best survive.

mike, 5:15 p.m.


Really, I am not too surprised. In fact, I am surprised that more players did not use the lockout to bow out gracefully, as players like Messier, Damphousse, and others did. But you're right...this is a good development for the league. This year will be the last crack at it for a number of players, and watch out next year for a lot of those young players to take up the charge. The NHL will come back, and it will be better.

Derek out.
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