Statistics make things easy. They are hard to argue with and paint a picture in numbers.
The first set of stats I am going throw at you are the top 20 point scorers from the 1981-82 and 2011-12 seasons.
Thirty years ago, Wayne Gretzky was the top scorer in the NHL with 209 points. Thirty years later, Evengi Malkin was the top scorer with 109 points. A 100 point difference between the two. If you look down the list, the difference in points between the leaders for both seasons is remarkable.
The next set of stats is for the top 20 goaltenders for the same seasons.
Like the top scores, the difference in stats for goalies is equally remarkable. On the low end of the list for 1981-82, the Ed Mio has a 3.56 GAA. In 2011-12, Allen York has a 2.30 GAA.
Get where I am going with this? Let me help you. The NHL has morphed into a league where goals are way down. Offense isn’t the name of the game anymore. Though goaltenders are putting up some awesome stats now, it doesn’t really mean the tenders are better.
The NHL game has changed from an offensive oriented game to a defensive oriented game. I blame two things…the trap and the size of goalie equipment. What the NHL has failed to do is address both of these problems. There was hope after the lockout of the 2004-05. Heck, the Sabres of that time period were built around speed with the idea that the NHL was working to open up the game. That lasted for about two seasons before all the clutching and grabbing eased its way back into the game.
I long for the days of end-to-rushes by players as something regular to the game.
The NHL, unlike other professional sports, hasn’t worked on ways to keep the game exciting. Why? Who in the hell knows? Don’t get me wrong, hockey is still awesome at times. But unless the league does something to address this thirty year slip into boring the shit out of people until the playoffs start, it will never be as awesome as it once was.
The offensive talent is still there…the sick goals and sick plays happen, but we need more of it. Work on ways to to totally eliminate the trap. Work on ways to limit a goalies equipment size. Do something to bring the game back to where it was thirty years ago! It will do wonders for the sport.