When I can, I enjoy watching “King of the Hill.” I always enjoyed it, but having spent some time in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area it became even funnier to me.
One episode seems to me particularly appropriate to the season: it was called “Bills are Made to be Broken.” It first aired on 24 October 1999. This was the episode in which Bill “the Billdozer” Dauterive was honored as the touchdown record-holder at Arlen High School, but his record was in jeopardy. But the kid who was vying for the title was injured and not able to play. Yet, in pursuit of the record, he was subbed into the game for a goalline play, during which the defense simply stood aside and let him limp the ball across to set the new record.
Anyone with an ounce of integrity would cry, “Foul!”
And so I return to my ongoing criticism of the NHL, and lately its American fans. Here’s an exercise I invite you to try. Google for the following players and their offensive records: Darryl Sittler; Bill Mosienko; Joe Malone; Wayne Gretzky; Paul Coffey; Mike Bossy; Gordie Howe; Brett Hull; Marcel Dionne; Phil Esposito; Mark Messier; Ron Francis. These are the pre-2005-rules-change offensive record holders. They either hold the records or are in the top five. They played the game according to the rules that have been in force as we know them since roughly 1911.
Frankly, their accomplishments aren’t going to mean a thing. This season’s rules changes have made these guys and their blood-and-guts hockey irrelevant. They’ll be forgotten relics, replaced by the “new, better, faster” NHL of the 21st Century.
“Foul!” A four-minute double minor for slashing the rules and slashing almost a century of hockey history. Two minutes for instigating lopsided offense-heavy changes to the game. Five for fighting on the side of American consumerism and it’s thirst for big bigger BIG scores. A game misconduct for changing the way the game is conducted to gain fans instead of actually marketing the pure game and thereby winning fans over (let the reader understand).
Every goal this season ought to be followed by an asterisk. Or perhaps we could cast it a different way. Any netminder with a shutout this season ought to have an asterisk that reads, “They thought they’d gotten past these, but he did it anyway.”
I’m going to do my best to bite my tongue and rein in my fingers from typing in the future. The fans are speaking. They’re getting behind these rules. They’re probably here to stay. So maybe I turn my attention more seriously toward minor leagues and Canadian major juniors…