Penguins wouldn't mind some changes
Penguins forward Mike Comrie: "If we could reduce the goalie equipment even more, it gives us even a better chance [to score]."
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The Penguins don't tend to have the sort of egos that would make them long to be king for a day, but with things a little looser during the preseason than in the regular season -- which starts Thursday at home against Philadelphia -- there was time to ponder a fanciful question.
If they could change one thing about hockey, anything at all, what would it be?
A large cross-section of the players came up with some interesting answers, although most prefaced them by professing a love for the game the way it is.
Still, if they held that power ...
"Maybe play music while we'd be playing," forward Max Talbot said. "Whatever kind of music. It doesn't matter. Yeah, why not?"
Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury put a different spin on the same idea.
"Maybe have music in practice -- a little bit of everything so there's no fights," he said.
Asked why that would be the thing he changed, Fleury said, "Because I'm lonely sometimes in the net."
Defenseman Kris Letang took the route of comfort. The one thing he dislikes about his routine is the time it takes to put on his gear, so he wants to go high-tech.
"I would like a uniform that would be all one piece, with the pads inside, and you could zip it up and it would [cling] to you," he said.
Forward Mike Comrie had a different equipment request.
"If we could reduce the goalie equipment even more, it gives us even a better chance [to score]," he said. "The goalies are so athletic now and play their angles so well, it's a little more exciting when there are more goals.
"If you could reduce them by another inch or so, it might make things more interesting -- as long as they're still protected."
Defenseman Ben Lovejoy would leave the goaltenders alone but alter the nets they guard.
"I'd make the net a couple of feet bigger so I could potentially score a goal or two," he cracked.
Center Sidney Crosby had a more serious answer, certainly something that is feasible, with an eye toward making part of the game more exciting for players and fans.
"I would like to see three-on-three in overtime," Crosby said. The extra period now is played four-on-four.
"I just think that three-on-three is pretty fun. There's a lot of ice. That forces teams to make decisions -- some teams will play two [defensemen] and one forward, some will play two forwards and one [defenseman] and kind of go for it a little more. It makes for, I think, an interesting back-and-forth game."
Perhaps it's not surprising on a team that played an exhaustive amount of hockey in recent years -- going to the Stanley Cup final two springs in a row and winning it in 2009 -- that several players' answers revolved around reducing their workload.
Winger Pascal Dupuis would like to somehow reduce the travel. He decided it would be cool if the team that wins the Stanley Cup gets to play all of its games at home the next season.
Fellow winger Matt Cooke would like to eliminate games on consecutive nights in different cities.
"I'm fine with a day in between, but the back-to-backs are taxing on your body," he said.
Others had specific ideas about shortening the 82-game season.
"If they took out 10 games, give you 15, 20 more days of rest, it wouldn't be so grueling for your body," defenseman Alex Goligoski said.
Winger Tyler Kennedy's suggestion was more extreme.
"I would say play each team once," he said. "Two games a week would be fine for me. And the games would mean more."
Forward Mark Letestu would just build in a little more time to rest during games.
"I'd say longer intermissions," he said of the 17-minute breaks. "I get tired. I would like another couple of minutes to relax and take in what just happened."
Then there's goaltender Brent Johnson. He couldn't settle on one thing.
"I'd change back to the old ways so there's no long TV timeouts," he said. "It seems like it slows the game down."
Then he quickly came up with an altruistic request.
"For my defensemen, the non-touch icing [rule] so they're not getting run anymore," Johnson said.
And, with a laugh, he thought of something that would make his life in the net less trying.
"Maybe take out all the breakaways," he said.
Finally, Johnson joined Talbot and Fleury with an idea about music, this one concerning what is played during the pregame, stoppages and intermissions. One look at any of his helmets lets you know he's a Led Zeppelin connoisseur, but he's willing to expand the playlist.
"Classic rock all the time would be nice," Johnson said.
First Published October 5, 2010 12:00 am