The only game that was on TV today during day one of the ’07-’08 NHL season was the battle of Ontario: Toronto vs. Ottawa. These games are always heated and packed with emotion, especially in the last two seasons where the Leafs and Senators have had to face each other 16 times a year.
But there was something different about tonight’s game. The two teams have had four months to let bygones be bygones, but that wasn’t the case. The game was packed with huge hits, facewash-filled scrums, and a few good tilts. Even Wade Redden, who has been in three fights in the last two seasons, dropped the gloves twice, the second time leaving him bloody.
And these weren’t those little hugging matches that we’ve seen so often. These were full on scraps with some bombs landed from both sides.
Judging by tonight’s match, it seems that Brian Burke left an impression on the game of hockey last season where his Ducks won the cup, while mounting the most fighting majors in the league.
If tonight’s game is any kind of a preview as to what we’re going to see from the rest of the league this season, the flash and dash hockey that the league’s executives aimed to create with the new NHL could be evolving into rough, fight-filled, old time hockey. Brian Burke hockey.
What does this mean for advertising the league? It means that the die-hard Canadian fans, who already love the game, are going to get what they’ve wanted since the early nineties, but it also means the Americans, who don’t like the fighting, are going to keep changing the channel to an NBA or NFL game.
Who knows, maybe this will help Pierre Lebrun’s cause for an NHL Europe when teams start to stack up on gritty Canadians as Burke did, meaning less spots for Europeans over here.
It’s already happening, as only one Russian player was drafted in the first round of the 2007 NHL entry draft, and that’s the lowest number in a long, long time.