I generally like John Buccigross. If there is anyone who genuinely tries to promote the sport of hockey on ESPN.com, it's him. He used to anchor the show NHL2Night on the same network before they axed it permanently during the lockout, and he's still trying to get it back on the air. His articles about outdoor rinks, teaching his son the joy of the game and his believable support of all 30 NHL teams are truly a gift to hockey.
But he insists on widening the goals.
In nearly every column he writes, he mentions his obsession with changing the spread of the posts, which he believes will instantly transform the NHL into a league where scoring a goal is no longer a relatively rare event. In his column today, he waited to mention this until the letters section, but mention it he did. A reader asked if GPS tracking devices should be implanted in the pucks in order to accurately determine when a goal has been scored. His response:
With the NHL destined to be a tight-checking, close-scoring, low-scoring league until the net dimensions are increased, an improvement in puck tracking should be No. 1 on the offseason agenda.
What? How would the NHL cease to be tight-checking if the net dimensions are increased? Does the size of the rink change too? How would a couple of additional inches in the goals make the NHL any less defensive-minded?
This mindset kills me. Does the NBA ever consider shrinking the size of the baskets (or raising them another foot or two) because scoring is too easy? Does the NFL periodically consider making the field 80 yards long instead of 100 because there are too few touchdowns? No, of course not. Why on earth should the NHL alter the size of the goals? Just to get one or two more goals per game? So what?
The idea that hockey would somehow be more exciting if more goals were scored has been a running theme among many columnists for a while now, and it still doesn't make any sense. Hockey is exciting to watch because it's so damn hard to score, not despite it. Every goal is an event, a celebration, a spectacle. Every goal means something.
Goals should be hard to score. With the exception of soccer, no other professional sport in North America boasts scoring celebrations like this: