Monday, May 24, 2004


Canadian Hockey to abolish the Red Line next season

According to a report from , Hockey Canada will abolish the Red Line for offside passes in all levels of amateur hockey starting in 2004-05

When you look at it, a lot of our leagues are not using the red-line already," Hockey Canada president Bob Nicholson said. "I'm really happy to see that it's happening because it's just making it really consistent for everyone across this country."

Wow, for all of my ranting about the boring play in the WHL and Memorial Cup this season, along comes this bombshell.

So, the CHL will go out on its own and stop trying to be just a feeding factory for the defense-hungry NHL. I like the fact that Hockey Canada sees that it's more important to develop kids rathen than produce players for the NHL.

Now, is removing the red line the panacea for the game? It remains to be seen.

In the past, I've been opposed to removing the red line to match the European game.

Yes, I know the play at the Olympics was riveting, but that was a time when you had the world's best players in one small tournament. Everyday regular games will not have that level of competition.

European leagues, especially Sweden and Russia, are extremely low scoring and boring in their own right. Removing the red line has led to defensemen rarely joining the rush, and has actually made it easier to trap.


Without the red line, teams simply pull 4 or 5 backcheckers and try to divert the oppositions attack to one side of the ice. The opposition is forced into turnovers, and has little choice but to put the puck into the corner. Once the puck is in the corner, the wider ice surface ensures that fewer scoring opportunities will ensure.

Now the North American rinks do not have that problem of wider ice surfaces making cycling an inferior weapon, so that alleviates some of that worry.

I just worry that coaches will be even more afraid to use the open ice, and will use 0-5 or 1-4 systems instead.

But I expect the good coaches will adapt, and that skill can prevail.

Hockey can't get any more boring and low-scoring, can it? I applaud Hockey Canada for this bold step.

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