Niagara Gazette — When I went out West for a higher degree, I didn’t stay as true as Sabre fans did here over the years. But I have two friends, one in Syracuse, one a Montrealer living on the West Coast, who carefully followed hockey’s evolution from the Original Six onward. They know as much about the French Connection, LaFontaine, Hasek, and others who made it big here as do any fans in Greater Niagara.
Both friends say the game has changed immensely, not least, the average size of players, and that includes sasquatch goalies in cumbrous equipment, who fill up today’s nets. Apparently there’s now less room on the rink to dipsy-doodle, and one of these pals said a heretical thing–that the iconic Gordie Howe would barely have made today’s NHL!
To which I retort that goalies who played without masks, and other players who routinely absorbed now verboten stick chops on arms and legs ... well, putting it diplomatically, you can’t compare apples to oranges. Howe was among the greatest of his time, in a truly demanding era, and why wonder how he would do today in the era of bearded wonders?
It’s nice, however, to have had these Original Six teams vie for hockey’s championship, won by Chicago, and again, to see graying royalty around, too. You remember the old song from the Broadway musical and subsequent movie, “Fiddler on the Roof”– “Tradition”? It’s something we could all apparently use these days, and despite a truncated, strike-reduced N.H. L. season this year (which would never have occurred in the Original Six period); and despite how much has apparently changed in size and tactics (and remuneration!), tradition really was welcome in the Cup finals, as it was in the 2013 U.S. Open.
And thankfully, Patrick Kane et al. will doubtless trim those superstitious playoff beards over the summer!
B. B. Singer has taught at several colleges in the area, including Niagara University.B. B. Singer has taught at several colleges in the area, including Niagara University.