Hockey changes long overdue

Hope that the bitter Trail-Rossland-Beaver Valley rivalries of the past may deminish.

I wonder if anyone is watching the NHL playoffs?

At least it was a fitting end to the Washington Capitals’ run. Dale Hunter’s Caps typified the way the game is now being played. Turn your superstars like Ovechkin and Semen into grinders, box it up, play perimeter hockey, blasting away from the blue line until a shot is deflected by a screened goalie (that is virtually unbeatable otherwise), while defenders lay out in front of more rubber than Goodyear makes in a good year.

The Caps’ forwards and defencemen blocked as many shots as their goalie, something unheard of back in the old days of the other most boring innovation in professional hockey – the trap.

For a while I was worried that the game had lost its lustre, but then I tuned into the Canada-Finland game at the IIHF World Championships and enjoyed a game of hockey I almost didn’t recognize.

It was full of excitement and speed. Creativity and finesse actually prevailed on the large ice surface, epitomized by the goals of Jordan Eberle, John Tavares and Jeff Skinner.

Maybe the NHL should consider turning its cramped, restrictive ponds into more spacious vistas. More room can only help the skilled players and possibly reduce the efficacy of the new trap.  Reduced head shots might also be a  biproduct of a big surface.

• The RBC Cup proved an immensely entertaining tournament with five evenly matched teams fighting for junior hockey supremacy.

I watched the games on my laptop, thoroughly impressed with Trail native Travis St. Denis and his performance. Trail Smoke Eater fans should be proud that the home team helped develop the talented forward and congratulate him for a great junior career.

• Kudos to the Beaver Valley Minor Hockey Association on its vote for amalgamation. It’s a big step but a necessary one if hockey is going to grow in Greater Trail communities.

Merging BVMHA and Rossland Trail Minor Hockey Association has been a divisive issue that has strained friendships and ignited heated debates, but in the end, it will allow more kids to play hockey, and solve a number of issues arising from ‘No team in category’ status.

Most importantly, bylaw 60 ensures that all early elementary school kids will stay and play at their home rinks without having to travel, while all older kids will have the option to play Rep or House and not have to jump through another Association’s hoops.

The bitter Trail–Rossland– Beaver Valley rivalries of the past may diminish. Yet as I watched the RTMHA Bantam AA team play at the provincials last March, the fact the team was made up of players from all three communities didn’t seem to matter much – at least to the kids.

For more info on the background go to beavervalleyminorhockey.com