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SLBAM: the NHL is a copycat league

What’s up gang. What big news for the Habs with the signing of their goalie! I don’t think anyone is losing out in this signing, and it’s a fair one. Now it’s time for the organization to trust a goalie and try to give him as many opportunities as possible.

Now, here’s the answer to your questions.

There’s room, but it’s difficult, in the sense that you can’t really revolutionize a lot of things, because you don’t have many games you can redo. I’ll take zone exits as an example, there’s not much else you can do right now, same thing with transitions.

You can always try something new on set breakout/regroup, because the game’s stopped. What we’re seeing on a regular basis is new face-offs in all three zones.

One thing I can’t wait to see changed is the famous “drop” zone exit on the power play.

I think there are so many other things we could do. In the KHL, we’ve seen the strategy of pulling your goalie in overtime. But here in the NHL, LAH and ECHL, there’s a rule against it.

So we talk about recycling, but sometimes it’s recycling from years ago that comes back.

Also, each team is different, depending on its personnel. For example, Pittsburgh wouldn’t necessarily be able to play in the defensive zone like the Boston Bruins, with the defenseman dropping his player at the top of the circles.

One thing’s for sure, though, when we talk about the NHL, we’re often talking about a “copycat” league: winning teams are often analyzed in the off-season, and many teams change their style of play to copy those who’ve won.

This summer, when we had our organizational meeting with Pittsburgh, Wilkes and Wheeling, we took a close look at Las Vegas. That says a lot.

As best we can. The reality in the ECHL is that we provide two teams ahead of us (AHL, NHL), and we can only have 22 players on our roster.

So when the Penguins are injured in our case, we know they’re going to recall players to Wilkes. Even though Wilkes has almost six forward lines, they’re going to call some back from us.

Not long ago, they had four of our forwards with them, our goalie and a defenseman. Not to mention that our other two best forwards were injured…

Take away six of your top seven forwards, a top defenseman and the number 1 goalie and try to compete against teams with a full line-up, it’s not always easy.

So at that point, we have to look at trades, free agents or the SPHL, which is a league below us.

Like last week, we called up Xavier Filion, who played his hockey in Quebec and finished his 20th year with Rimouski. A right-handed center whom we were able to discover and who has been of great service to us.

Otherwise, it’s not impossible to play a game with a smaller number of players, because we haven’t had time to call someone back, or because they’re far too far away to make the trip on the same day.

The ECHL is a real headache in this respect.

Just last Wednesday, we were filling the bus for our evening game in Indy. Our line-up is done, our morning practice is done and there’s only 15 minutes to go.

Two players came up to us to say they couldn’t play (I can’t divulge the reasons out of respect). So we had no choice but to find a solution. Fortunately, two LAH players had returned, but your line-up changes quickly.

The salary cap in the ECHL is $14,100 per week for the 22 players on the roster. The average salary in the league is around $720 US per week.

On top of this, players receive insurance, accommodation is provided and, of course, food is provided on the road in the form of a per diem. At the arena, lunch is included.

We’re talking about $550 to $1600 a week, depending on whether the player is a rookie or a veteran and other factors.

Unfortunately, contracts are not guaranteed. So when a player is let go, he’s left without a contract and free to sign wherever he wants. Many have to fight for their position, and sometimes this creates a battle, but it’s never easy to tell a player that he’s been released.

I think this comes from football with the “challenges” and I don’t hate it, to be honest. In the sense that we see it, the game is getting faster and faster and the referees are taking more and more out of it.

And frankly, it won’t get any better with time.

What I’d like to see is something automatic for offsides. In the sense of a camera all along the blue line, and as soon as there’s an offside, you hear a buzzer in the arena that stops the game and indicates that there’s an offside.

Sometimes it might take one to three seconds after the zone has been entered, but then there’d be no grey zone. Because let’s face it, there must be more than 10 offsides per game that aren’t called.

Extension

This ends my article, once again, thank you all. Have a good Sunday and we’ll talk again @Mitch_Giguere.

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