Saturday, November 12, 2011

'Trap Gate', Sidney Crosby and Penn State Hockey

Scandal Effects on Penn St. Hockey

What can you say about the events that have taken place at Penn State this week? A lot of sick and disturbing acts were brought to the four fronts and has really saddened the entire country. I am not going to sit here and give my opinion on what took place, as many have done that already and done it well. I do want to bring up another aspect that is more in our world and that is the effect it will have on the brand new hockey program that will begin play in less than a year at State College. The football program has already lost at least one top level recruit because of these events, so what will happen to hockey?

 That is a question that might not be answered for a while. But you have to think the young men that have committed to play there as well as others who are being recruited for the future will have to think twice about Penn State being their destination for playing college hockey. This in no way is a shot at head coach Guy Gadowski or his staff. They have just started when it comes to recruiting and putting a stamp on the University, which right now makes them look like the cleanest program on campus. But there are just so many questions surrounding the community that is Penn State University, it would be hard to imagine a young man committing to something now that is in such a state of flux.

Thinking back to when I was deciding on where to attend college, it was hard enough to commit and feel comfortable starting a new life in a new place. But to add  more stress of going to a school where there are so many questions and more importantly questions about who is going to lead the University into the next decade. It would be really hard to say yes to Penn State right now and that is really a shame for a program that looked to have so much promise. This will be an early road block but hopefully the University will get the right people leading the way and the hockey program can flourish down the road.

Trap Gate

Did anyone happen to see the game the other night between the Flyers and the Lightning? Well in case you missed it, the Flyers decided to play keep away from the lightning for over 30 seconds, having their two defenseman play catch with the puck between the two faceoff circles in their zone. The comical thing was that you saw the referees at first waiting for the play to develop. Then looking at the defenseman as if to ask them what the heck you guys are doing, to finally looking at their counter parts as if to say to one another what should we do? Eventually they stopped the play and dropped the puck in the Flyers zone. After it happened a second time, the Flyers finally started to play a regular pace and things went back to normal but it was definitely something new for these eyes of mine to see in a hockey game.

In case you were like me asking yourself why this would happen, it came simply from the Flyers trying to figure out a way to beat Tampa Bay’s neutral zone trapping system. The Lightning had been very successful lately by clogging the neutral zone to cause turnovers and create offense. Well the Flyers came up with a plan to see if the Lightning would grow impatient and come out of their system. As it turned out, the Lightning stayed disciplined and the Flyers were stuck looking like fools. But in my mind it was worth a shot. Coaches these days are trying to be innovative and come with new ways to create offense and I think in this case Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette was trying something new to try and beat a certain system. It did not work but in these times , thinking outside the box to help your team win a game has become the norm.

Sid the Kid

Ok, ok I understand that every media member wants to be the first one to get the scoop on when Sidney Crosby will return, but the continuous bombardment of him and the Penguin’s coach asking when he will return needs to stop. Clearly this is the biggest story in the NHL and he is the most important player in the league. But as I wrote earlier on in the summer, concussions are so unpredictable and can be so delicate that even though a guy has started practicing and is allowed to have contact. By no means does that mean he is ready to play in a game. There is one thing to be bumped in practice, but it is another thing to have a 220 pound defenseman barrel in on you at top speed looking to separate you from the puck.

So with those things in mind, let’s all be a little patient with Sid the Kid. As I said, with him being the most important player in the league, the right thing is for him to come back when he knows he is ready. The last thing we want is another Eric Lindros scenario. I know in our society it is a what have you done for me lately kind of deal, but waiting a couple of extra weeks or even a month is well worth it to see Crosby play another 10 years at the level we know he is capable of.

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