Down with the Dead Puck

January 31, 2020 By arne hendriks Off

When John Chayka, general manager of the Arizona Coyotes of the National Hockey League, used his seventh-overall draft selection to pluck talented centre Clayton Keller, he was sold on the teen’s playmaking ability and his knack for creating what in any competitive sport is the hardest to create: time and space. At 177cm and 77 kg, Keller was the shortest among the first-rounders and one of only 3 players in that round measuring under 183 cm.

The emergence of more short star players is part of a trend in professional ice-hockey visible since the “Dead Puck Era” (1995-2004) when a preference for big players and physicality were prized over speed and offensive skill. A general blindness towards the qualities of small made it more difficult for short players to achieve success at the NHL level in a period when uncalled obstruction, so-called clutch and grab, masqueraded as defensive hockey. Games often ended in massive brawls that had very little to do with hockey skills. However, ongoing rule changes have all but put an end to clutch and grab, opened up the ice, and empasize speed, skill and intelligence. It’s become a playmaker’s game, not an intimidation game. The game is now built around ability and creativity, and smaller players because small people by default have more space and time. And they’re able to create time and space for others as well, and not just in hockey.

Thank you Xander Cummins.