Bigger ice not the answer - The Hockey News on Sports Illustrated

Bigger ice not the answer

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I'm tired of people continuing to champion larger ice surfaces as a means for the NHL to garner more goals.

Larger ice is not the answer to more scoring. In fact it would have an adverse effect on the North American game. Larger ice introduces a host of problems the NHL does not want to deal with.

For starters, larger ice actually cuts down the goal production. How, you ask? Well, the larger the ice the more severe the angles of attack, thus promoting less "high percentage" scoring chances. Need proof? Look up the stats of the European professional leagues - not exactly the vision of production the NHL is trying to market (and remember Kristian Huselius tore up theses leagues at a measly point-per-game before having exponential success on the smaller ice).

Secondly, larger ice opens the door for European players to come overseas to make more money. Why? Because for the most part they are more ‘pure’ skaters than North American kids. There are exceptions to the rules, however, namely: Sidney Crosby, Dustin Brown, Jonathan Toews, Jason Chimera and Phil Kessel. But not many U.S. or Canadian kids can tear down the ice like the Euros. Rather you'd have more Marion Gaboriks, Kristian Huseliuses and Markus Naslunds, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, it's just hard to market the game around them (it's near impossible to do it around the best Canadian since Mario Lemieux and Wayne Gretzky).

Larger ice is not the answer. Keep the game the way it is and the goals will come.

The new generation is showing signs of having figured out the goalie systems - which is the reason goal scoring is down anyhow. Kovalchuk, Lecavalier, Iginla, Malkin and Ovechkin are scoring goals at an amazing pace and may hit the 60-goal plateau this season.

Give it another five years and the NHL "goal rush" will be a thing of the past.

Matthew Onstad, Valencia, Calif.