Scotty Bowman has been in hockey a long time. He’s seen the game change and evolve many times over through his career but he says the way things are being played now don’t sit well with him.
Jim Matheson hears from Bowman about how the strategy teams use that sees players all falling back to defend and block shots is one that doesn’t help the game look good.
“It’s three against five to score. The two defencemen (on the attacking team) don’t come in because they’re worried about getting caught. You get so many outnumbered situations down low. Look at how close the defending wingers are to their net and how far away they are from the other net. It’s a good ploy defensively, but it’s why there is not as much offence.”
That makes plenty of sense, even to fans that don’t know the game well. Then Bowman draws it up a bit clearer.
“When I was coaching in Montreal, Lafleur and Shutt wouldn’t even know what the ice was like below the top of the circle. Look at Wayne Gretzky; he was always out between the blue-lines. Brett Hull? Maybe it’s wise to put four guys down low and one other guy way high,” said Bowman.
If you’ll recall, Bowman used a defensive system called the “left wing lock” to help the Red Wings shut down opponents. Instead of stopping shots in the zone, it kept teams from gaining the zone easily and turning it over in the neutral zone. A lot of people thought that was a scourge once, too.