Despite my frequently disparaging remarks about cerntain other major sports, hockey isn’t the only sport I like. Football (the real stuff, not the hands free nonsense) has major appeal for me. The water polo is actually pretty interestin when the Olympic roll around, and rugby either in seven man or larger teams is always worth putting on. None of those however are really comparable to hockey, and none are set up for comparisons and cross-pollination as much as lacrosse.
One of the things that struck me as I watched some college and professional lacrosse was the difference in stick sizes. Defenders have longer sticks than attackers allowing them to do their job better. Then there is the width of the stickhead, that’s the interesting part. They tend to vary. One of the most frustrating things when watching NHL hockey is how often pucks bounce over the stick of defenseman at the point. During even strenth play this is annoying, during the powerplay it is maddening.
Why not allow NHL defenseman to play with sticks with a taller blade? An two or even three inches higher blade should increase offensive zone time, and reduce the dangerous nuetral zone play. With bad ice in numerous buildings especially late in the season pucks traveling to or near the blueline as pucks are cycled from hih to low anything that allows teams to keep the action going in the offensive zone is a plus for the team and the league as a whole. Another aspect of containing those bouncing pucks is the difference between where the blueline is now and where it traditionally had been. The extra distance means that players deep in the offensive zone have to apply more force to the the puck to get it all the way out to the defensemen. The extra force makes the puck more likely to bounce or simply travel above the ice the entire distance.
Not only will taller blades help keep pucks in, they will allow defenseman to take better shots on those bouncing pucks. As perhaps the greatest coach in hockey history discovered, some times those shots on a puck that isn’t sitting perfectly flat can have a great impact.