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Tailing the Komets

Here's what I'm hearing

I've talked to several players over the past couple of weeks who have questions about the IHL's plan to change some of the rules, especially the instigator rule. That comes from players who fight and players who don't.

Each one I talked to has reservations about how this is going to work and wonder if they might be better off playing somewhere else. They'd like to hear more from the league on the specifics of what they mean by calling things looser in the offensive zone. I think they'd like to see a little more detail to what exactly the owners are talking about and want. It's fine to talk about these rules changes in the abstract, but what will they actually mean within the framework of a game? That's only fair because so far it's all been talked about only in generalities.

As one said to me, if they have a chance to go to another league that doesn't promote the fighting as much, and the pay is about equal, why should they take the risk and put up with more fighting by coming to the IHL? This player is not a wuss or a chicken or a wimp. He fights ocassionally, but not every night. He fights when he sees legitimate reasons for it.

Players also look at this as, my body is my tool, it's how I make my livelihood, so why should I risk it if I do not have to?

I think this comes back to a point I've made many times over the years: I'm not sure junior hockey is producing many of those types of players any more. I'm not sure players are being taught as much hitting and physical play at the lower levels. If they were, every team would have more of them -- because they are always looking for them in part to appease the fans -- and they don't. As one player told me, ``If the guys don't want to fight, it won't matter what they do with the rules, and not that many guys do any more. And the ones who do sure won't want to do it every night.''

Even the Komets oldtimers I talked to last week mostly chuckled at the intent of the new rules because they don't believe today's players will go with it. Hockey, they said, has changed and so have the players. Sure, there are plenty of goons, but how many of them can actually play, and do you want to just promote the spectacle of fights? Do you want to see a guy skate one shift a period just to fight? How do you promote the fisticuffs without damaging the overall product of the play?

No one wants to play in what might be perceived as a goon league, and I think the players would like a little assurance from the owners that is not what's going to happen and what the owners will do to make sure it does not happen.

Those are all legitimate questions the players are wondering about. After all, the instigator rule was not put in place to protect the fighters, but to protect those players who do not fight from getting obliterated by those that do. It had a legitimate purpose.

We'll just have to wait and see what the answers are. It's going to be fascinating to see how this works, or maybe if it works.

Everybody have a great and safe Fourth.

Posted in: Komets


Tue, 07/03/2007 - 4:12pm

Well if the players don't "go with it" right away, they eventually will. Just like over the past 10-15 years how the powers that be killed all intensity in the sport, the new IHL will take a bit of time for them to find that balance.

I don't think anyone wants a blood sport, they just want things to return to what they were when the Frankes bought the team the first 4-5 years. Good physical hockey with fights, plenty of body checks and letting the skill players do their thing. You know the stuff that makes hockey the great sport it is or was in many fans opinions?

I don't think anyone can argue and if you do...you are a complete liar that the level of intensity at Komets games isn't anywhere near what it use to be and it is because the physical element has been killed off. You can have players afraid to throw a body check for fear of a penalty. I remember when the Coliseum use to roar, now on many nights even when we have 10,000 in the building it is dead.

I am not trying to be mean here, but the players need to take a look around see what is going on with their sport. What they are doing right now is NOT WORKING. Ratings are at an all time low, just about any board you go to have the majority of fans clamoring for more physical play, so many articles that say the same thing. Politically correct hockey just doesn't sell.

You yourself Blake have said teams are dropping like flies. The IHL at least is trying to make things fun again. I applaud the IHL for actually listening to the fans gripes. There is nothing wrong with wanting hockey to be more physical and it sells tickets bottom line.

Just think, the loudest the building was last year at any time is when either Morency, Richardson or Henley raised a little hell. I think both fans and players need to quit overreacting to them saying they want more physical play. I don't think the new IHL wants a goon league and they are smart enough to get a good balance and bring some more bang for the entertainment buck and in turn the player will enjoy playing in more raucous atmospheres!

Tue, 07/03/2007 - 4:42pm

Fans want physical hockey and skilled players that can score alot of goals. Goals and Fights is what thrives fans and that is what they need to focus on. The league needs good strong dependable teams in the league and go from there. If there was not much going on in the game and all of a sudden someone got knocked down and there was pusing and shoving, everyone was standng up to see what was going. People love that stuff and thats what there trying to focus on to get everyone in all the other leagues to notice.

Tue, 07/03/2007 - 4:46pm

I agree wholeheartedly with your sentiments and the players comments. Its nice to know what the players are thinking as that is more important than what us fans think. The league seems to be only hurting themselves with this lack of information and gag order stuff. Get the specifics out so the players and fans will be reassured instead of all this mumbo jumbo they have been spewing for weeks. There can be a happy medium but they need to let the players know what is up.

quote: "No one wants to play in what might be perceived as a goon league, and I think the players would like a little assurance from the owners that is not what

Tue, 07/03/2007 - 4:54pm

i dont see how a league is going to be perceived as a goon league just because they add one roster spot and get rid of an instagator call which was never called correctly anyhow. let the players keep playing euro hockey with hardly any fighting and obviously no hitting and they will all be back in the coal mines eventually. fans are leaving timid hockey in droves. the nhl is full of people who no ones heard of and the games are on vs, tv?? the games headed for the crapper and the players better wake up or there wont be anybody in the stands to pay their salaries, nobody wants goon hockey but im so tired of figure skating .

Jungle Monkey
Tue, 07/03/2007 - 4:56pm


Tue, 07/03/2007 - 5:05pm

Chuckitt, the point is, it doesn't matter how we perceive it, it matters how the players are thinking about it. Personally, I don't think the owners want or will let it become a goon league, but the players don't know that. They have nothing to go by.

K.M., you missed the point. I'm not disputing anything you said. I'm just telling you what the players are telling me. THEY are the ones who have to be convinced, not me.

Look at it this way: If there are two construction jobs that pay the same, and one of then has less difficult, less dangerous requirements, which one are you going to take? The players are wondering why they shouldn't take the easier job in this case. And they do have an option.

I wonder if the league isn't missing the point, too. In any business, before you can convince your customers it always works much easier if you first convince the employees, if they believe in the product.

Burgee, anybody that owns a business back me up on that?

Right now, the players aren't sure about the product. That's not right, wrong, indifferent. That's the deal. They have not been convinced to believe in the product. The owners can say they want this stuff all they want, but if their workforce doesn't buy in, it's not going to happen. And yes, it is that simple.

Maybe it will all work out in the end, but right now no one knows what to expect, least of all the players.

Tue, 07/03/2007 - 6:01pm

youre right blake about the perception, but the players better take a look around and see the hockey crumbling around them. nhl on the vs network, teams folding right and left. the i is trying to revive some interest. maybe some guys will shy away but if they do, then i dont really think they were guys i might want around anyhow. i dont want somebody looking to take the easy way out. i want someone who has enough pride in themselves to go all out and give whatever it takes to get the job done, with that in mind. that is the reason hockey is heading downward, the fans are tired of watching guys g o thru the motions and not putting all out. afraid to get hurt, or that guys a friend or we share the same agent... ive heard all that and we fans are tired of it!!

Tue, 07/03/2007 - 6:03pm

maybe the first year of the ihl will be a little sub standard until things work out and the players adjust but after that i see a success story brewing and a viable and profitable and entertaining league on the horizon.

Tue, 07/03/2007 - 9:45pm

What I like about the no instigator rule is there is no more goading a guy and have one drop his gloves while the other turtles up. The guy who turtles up is usually the one who just sticked the guy or ran over the goalie. You know if these guys have those questions then move on because there will be others who will sign on the bottom line. Like you have said Blake there are only some many teams out there in minor league hockey and so many spots. I think the intent of the rule changes is to promote a more physical brand of hockey and I like that, but until it is implemented all across they hockey world you will have guys choosing to play in the league that adopts the rules of the NHL, or what I call the Non-Hitting League.

Tue, 07/03/2007 - 9:46pm

Having heard about some of the UHL prospects being recruited by Wichita and other CHL teams, if they start signing in the CHL, Blake's point will be proven.

I run a summer youth hockey program and get a few of the Wichita players to help out, talking to them besides the usual UHaul slams thrown around, one of the main recruiting points being made is that the U/IHL has become a joke of a league, and with the "Role" player slot and new rules which are different than the NHL's (and the AHL, ECHL, and CHL, which use most of the NHL Development program referees). They've even commenting on how bad the officiating will be. Would you, as a ref who has aspirations to move up to the AHL and NHL, ref games in a league where the rules would be different than the league you aspire to ref in one day? Plus, players don't like the constant home and home matchups against the same teams.

Maybe the bump in the cap will convince some to stay. With the different rules and the LNAH style "Role" players, I doubt you'll see any NHL or AHL teams put prospects in the U/IHL. Maybe a USA version of the LNAH will work, certainly the fans up there enjoy the games, but looks like you're going to lose the traditional minor league hockey player and skills you've been used to if a mass exodus by the current talent in the league occurs as rumored.



Wed, 07/04/2007 - 11:28am

I've been waiting for players to sign....it scares me to think of the type of players that we may be getting in this league.

Wed, 07/04/2007 - 2:30pm

todays players sure are soft. and again, adding one more roster spot is not going to turn the league into a goon league. as for the refs, most work college besides pro so they already ref differnt rules so whats the big deal? if a ref is good, he will get noticed just by word of mouth just like the players. dont worry about the caliber of play because it should be better with less teams and less roster spots available. if the chl signs all our players , what do their former players do for a job? therre will be tons of talent to go around.

Wed, 07/04/2007 - 2:44pm

Everyone is making good points....however, I must address one fact that is also playing a part in the reservations that players might have at this time:

Most people either do not like changes or they're afraid of change. It's part of being a human being....and perhaps one of our greater weak points.

Until everyone decides to come onboard and give this new league and it's new rules a chance.....these fears will likely remain. I hope that the team owners and the league address these concerns because I think what they're trying to do is a good thing and will make for a more entertaining style of hockey.

Good things do come to those who wait.....I think that the wait is nearly over. And yes, jobs in hockey are not as plentiful as they were just a few years ago. So for some of the players that REALLY WANT to play here....TRY IT, you might just LIKE IT!

(Unless you want to have a crappy job like I do!)

Wed, 07/04/2007 - 6:00pm

How the Wichita guys can be experts on the IHL, it's play and officating since the league hasn't begun yet is a mystery to me. Like most other stuff.

So the players don't like the home and home series. I guarantee that the fans will. Is the league in business to please the fans or the players? What are the players afraid of? Too many times I've seen a guy cheap shot someone and hide the rest of the night knowing they wouldn't play again for a month or two.

As far as the officiating goes, how many refs in the UHL or CHL are promoted to the NHL? I would suspect that we are going to see the same refs we have has for the last several years. Some are good, some are not so good. Just like the players.

If certain players fear the IHL because the play might be a little too rough for them, well, I always heard that hockey was a man's game and if you couldn't take it, get out.

Wed, 07/04/2007 - 6:07pm

Was the CHL a joke league when it started with 6 teams in 1992. I don't think so.

When the ECHL first took the ice in 1988, it had 5 (yes, FIVE ----- FIVE !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) teams.

A small start seems to have served those 2 leagues very well. Someone please explain why it won't work in the IHL.

Tony E
Wed, 07/04/2007 - 7:04pm

If none of last years players want to return that is fine with me. As far as I am concerned a new league SHOULD bring in new players with new attitudes. There are plenty of players out there looking for a shot at the pros and if some of these "ex UHL" players think they are too good to go in a different direction with a new league then there will be a line of guys forming to the left more than happy to have the opportunity to display their talents.

Tony E
Wed, 07/04/2007 - 7:06pm

The above being said I am NOT in favour of the possibility that the IHL heads towards that of a goon league.

Wed, 07/04/2007 - 9:00pm

no goons, just men.

Wed, 07/04/2007 - 9:48pm

If Pickard, or whomever it was, hadn't used the term "purpose player" this whole stupid "goon league" debate would have never happened.

Wed, 07/04/2007 - 10:37pm

I think some of these players need to see video of the old Komets. Robbie Laird should provide the example. I doubt anyone would ever call him a goon but it certainly instigated more than his share of fights.

Thu, 07/05/2007 - 7:03am

No Skate, the phrases, "Specialty palyer witha physical presence..." and "...we won't condone goonery..." are the problem. THe IHL has already confused the players so I agree. Why would I want to play in this league. The league has sort of given a direction on how they want to go but no tools to get there.

Thu, 07/05/2007 - 7:04am

If these players think it might be too rough for them and are that scared they might get hurt then don't play here! Go to Europe and play that style of hockey. They don't check or fight over there.

Thu, 07/05/2007 - 7:09am

I want to see hustle, bone crushing checks, and the occasional fight. NO EURO HOCKEY.

Thu, 07/05/2007 - 7:22am

Any scoring at all wingmann, if not go watch wrestling.

Thu, 07/05/2007 - 7:36am

I think Blakes made a decent comment when he said that juniors are getting trained to play the game differently.

There are only a few options for AA hockey, the players that will come to play in the first year of the I, might not be the talent they want. But wait a few years, I think it will come back.

Thu, 07/05/2007 - 9:04am

Yes, if the employee doesn't believe in the product they will not sell it. S O if after working with the employee to convince them and they can not be convinced you have to find someone else who believes in it to sell it or you're in trouble.

BUT here you have customers who want to (buy a product)see hitting and checking back in the game. The hitting and checking alone will produce some fights, especially after playing each team so many times(the owners have created the product).

So, will we say good bye to some of the pretty boys who don't want to check and hit? - yes (because we need product to take to market). There are plenty of guys out there that want to play. If getting your chance to play pro hockey means hitting and checking, i think we'll find them.

Here i go spending someone else's money again but i would include incentives for hitting and checking. If it were me, i would negotiate my deal with a lower salary with performance incentives for things i know i could do (hit, check, score) -- why, because i have enough confidence in myself that i would achieve those goals.

Thu, 07/05/2007 - 9:15am

So then we're looking at the US version of the LNAH????

Tony E
Thu, 07/05/2007 - 9:39am

If that "purpose player" has some talent to play the game I have no problem with it. If he is the reincarnated Steve Durbano then I have no use for him. You might as well reincarnate the Fort Wayne Scouts.

Thu, 07/05/2007 - 9:44am

Hey Greg,
SORRY TO CONFUSE YOU. I have been going to Komet games for 32 years. I remember the old IHL. There was scoring to along with what I said before. I am tired of guys that don't give 110%, that let up on checks, that have size and don't use it, and back down from fights or don't stick up for a team mate. If they want to play Euro Hockey, that is where they should be. I DON'T WANT THEM HERE! I would rather have a game that is low scoring and have tons of hustle and hitting that a high scoring Euro Hockey style game.

Thu, 07/05/2007 - 10:05am

IMO, Euro Hockey isn't high scoring. It emphasizes defense first because in Europe, rinks are bigger and hitting isn't a great option, so you need to be defensivley smart in your positioning and a lot of North American Coachs (i.e. Scotty Bowman) bought into it. Plus the clutching and grabbing style of defense was still around. The NHL tried to help open up the game by taking out the Red line for the two line pass and call obstruction calls up the ---. If you're beat you're beat, you can't put your stick on anyone and slow them down. THe players will adapt. Right now the IHL sounds like they are bringing back all that crap plus the chance of someone getting jumped and as Blake said, until the players get a better idea of what the IHL has in mind, they would rather look elsewhere. Which means the IHL will end up with the single "A" caliber talent that some on here are saying will happen anyway.