“The game is changing.”
It has become hockey’s newest cliché — hopefully replacing the need to “get pucks deep,” or declare that the NHL “is a 3-2 league now.”
As more and more coaches stack their No. 1 unit and eschew the traditional, depth-based strategies of building lines in the National Hockey League, one coach recently uttered this heresy:
“Look at how they do it in the NBA. You get your three best guys, and you figure out the rest.”
Now, the fact that this coach preferred not to have his name on that quote also tells us something. On one hand, there are some obvious holes in that theory. Like, hockey isn’t basketball. The top players don’t play 40-plus minutes a night.
On the other, as the game changes and player fitness levels continue to rise, perhaps that 20-man team concept that has defined hockey for so many years is becoming antiquated as well. With TV time outs and shorter shifts for the other lines, maybe your best forwards can all play 25 minutes now.