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The 1-3-1 Strategy Stays

As expected, the NHL will not make any changes to rules when regarding the 1-3-1.

Several general manager’s said Tuesday “What happened between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Philadelphia Flyers was considered a stalemate. And being in the entertainment business, this is not a good thing”.

Well no kidding this is not a good thing. But how can you tell a coach how to coach his team? Come on, really, pucking think about this one.

If a team like the Bolts want to play the 1-3-1 and trapping the opposing team, then they have every right to do so. I have no problem with this system, the problem I have is when the opposing team is afraid to enter the 1-3-1 and sit there with the puck not moving it forward. Exactly what the Philadelphia Flyers did last week and what the Washington Capitals did last year in the playoffs.

There are many other ways of playing against the 1-3-1 and standing still with the puck is NOT one of them. In fact, the Flyers ended up losing the game against the Bolts, 2-1. And to what I believe was because instead of being aggressive in the opening period as they usually are, they stood still and didn’t move the puck.

Acting as if they were afraid to get trapped.

Here are what the GM’s said at annual fall meeting on Tuesday.

“We went around the room and got every manager’s opinion on where we’re at with that,” NHL Senior Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations Colin Campbell said. “I led the discussion saying we’ve played over 8,000 games since we took the red line out and this is the first time we’ve had a particular incident like this. We saw it in the World Junior [championship] one time, but the managers for the most part felt it is something we have to watch, work on and talk about it more in March. It’s not the type of hockey you want to throw at your fans very often.”

Added Tampa Bay GM Steve Yzerman: “It was good. We got everybody’s opinions on things, and it was good. I think the general consensus is just monitor the game and the way it is played, and potentially if there are problems going forward that need to be adjusted, at the appropriate time there will be.”

“We can’t tell coaches how to play unless there is a rule change put in that affects that. To me, it was a one-off,” Toronto GM Brian Burke said. “I don’t think it is something you’re going to see on a nightly basis. Obviously, if you do, that is a problem. We’re in the entertainment business, but I don’t think we need to react to it today.”

Added Nashville GM David Poile: “I’m not trying to take sides. I think everybody could look at it differently — some from Tampa Bay’s side and some from Philadelphia’s side. I’ll be concerned if that’s a repetitive situation. I’m not so sure it is going to be.”

“The score was 0-0. I know myself in a game, like tonight, at some point we’re going to be on our toes and we’re going to be forechecking,” Poile said. “At some point in the game we’re going to back on our heels and we’re going to be in the 1-3-1. It is just visually strange to me when it is 0-0. As soon as somebody scored a goal, that’s not happening anymore.”

Yzerman doesn’t see his team’s style causing problems. Neither did I for that matter.

“It hasn’t happened very often,” Yzerman said of the controversial stalemate. “I think the way the game is played — I think virtually every team in the League plays pretty similar, and I think it is a byproduct of the way the rules are now. Coaches figure out ways to play and ways to be successful with the personnel they have. If incidents occur like that more regularly, then obviously we’d have to look at altering the rules once again. Tampa Bay plays virtually the same way that every team in the League does.”

“There is an agreement that it might happen again,” Campbell said. “The question is would you do that at home in front of your own fans? The other question is, is it successful, is it the type of thing that will win you games? We put a lot of talk and a lot of thought into it. They want to throw it to the March meeting. But it’s not something they want to see much more.”

“I don’t think Philadelphia was trying to prove a point or embarrass anybody,” Washington GM George McPhee said. “I think Philly was trying to get Tampa forecheckers to come toward them so they could open things up. That’s what one coach wanted to do and the other coach refused to do it. We had a stalemate.

McPhee, didn’t you play for the Flyers back in your day? Don’t try to cover up what Laviolette and Pronger were trying to do here. We all very well know the Flyers were trying to make a pucking point with this 1-3-1 strategy.

“We don’t want to see that very often, so we’ll keep an eye on it and see what happens in the future. … I think the general consensus was that teams can play whatever way they need to play to win. We’ll just monitor things and see if it is an issue in the future. For now though, there is nothing to be done.”

A lot of teams in the NHL use the 1-3-1 system, most just don’t stick with the strategy all game long as the Lightning do. And here we are again, another Steve Yzerman/Guy Boucher genius moment.

Well there you have it, the NHL made the right move on by taking no action, as I expected from the beginning and the league goes on.

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