Ken Dryden talks extensively about the evolution of hockey in his book “The Game”. He stresses the importance of allowing young players to be creative without the rigid structure of organized hockey. He uses Montreal Canadiens legend Guy Lafleur as an example of a player who would spend time alone on the ice or with a few friends before and after practice to feel and develop his own game. Dryden talks about how skill and instincts are developed better when there’s less restrictions. The mind is able to wander more and think of new ways of playing the game.
Kids across different sports are placed under strict limitations by coaches. They’re expected to follow a team system or game plan and find a role to stick with for the greater good of the team. Rosters can’t have twelve Gretzky’s playing forward, so naturally, some players got be more offensive while others were put into supporting roles.
When the ice is open and there are less limits, like in pond hockey, a player has the ability to be creative. They can try different things without any repercussions. You get the chance to feel the game and be more imaginative.
I find this similar to blogging. When individuals can just write, without any worry of losing anything, some interesting stuff can come out. And if it doesn’t, big deal. It sticks around the web until someone can come along and maybe pick up from where it left off. Like pond hockey, there are some loose rules, but for the most part, you’re free to do whatever you want.
Being able to write is the same feeling you get when you’re playing on a frozen pond. The possibilities just seem endless when you can skate whichever direction, at any speed and include any movement. It’s a great feeling when the sunset is the final buzzer.
Dryden, K. (1983). The Game. Toronto: John Wiley & Sons.
The 1972 Summit Series between Canada and Russia will forever be remembered as one of the greatest events in hockey history. The Canadians stacked with the top NHL players were expected to roll over the unknown Russian squad. Instead, they needed a final game to decide the winner. Legends were made for sure, with one of the most memorable goals of all time being scored to win it for Canada.
You can read up on all of the history, players and storylines at Joe Pelletiers excellent website.
As a project, blogger Pat Maclean of Black Dog Hates Skunks is applying modern methods of hockey analysis to each game of the Summit Series. Not an easy task considering how old the footage is and the lack of instant replay. There’s not a lot of people out there to bounce ideas off of, no Youtube and not a whole lot of stats. He does an amazing job regardless and provides detailed analysis of players, events and the coaches decisions.
I’m also in the midst of reading Ken Dryden’s “Face off at the Summit”. Dryden played goal for Team Canada and kept a journal of his thoughts during the series. After losing game 1 against the Russians, Dryden (1973) writes:
I’m afraid that this series will be analyzed and analyzed ad nauseam. People in the street. Cab drivers. Bellboys. Waiters. Writers. Coaches. League presidents. Prime ministers. Everyone. They all have a theory. They all picture themselves as a coach or a player, and they become theoretical and hypothetical. It’s so much bull, believe me. They’re all sitting there and playing verbal games to make themselves sound important. We have to play the real games. We know what we have to do. Or do we? (p. 64)
Fan analysis has always been around. It’s just with more people online, and more tools readily available for fans to contribute, the analysis has increased significantly. The community online is stronger and the amount of information available continues to grow. Gotta wonder what Dryden thinks of today’s fans compared to those in 1972.
Dryden, K. (1973). Face-off at the summit. Toronto: Little Brown.