EDMONTON – There was a time in hockey, when players like Ken Daneyko, Dave Manson or the Sutter brothers roamed the earth, that Trevor Zegras would have celebrated the morning after his dazzling assistance in dental surgery, having the after-effects of ‘a repaired Sherwood Sandwiched.
Not that long ago, not that long ago, a lacrosse-style pass from Zegras going past the goal to a teammate waiting in the slot didn’t define, as the hockey people like to say, âPlay the game the right wayâ.
” And in fact ? How was Sonny Milano allowed to stand in the low lunge like that, with all the time in the world to hit Zegras’ pass in the air and into the net!?!
“Someone is checking this guy behind the back, will you !?” “
Oh, how far we’ve come.
The world of hockey talk on Wednesday wasn’t even acceptable as a warm-up tool in the Rob Schremp days, when the former NHL player was 12 in 1998, bringing together his two favorite sports, lacrosse and hockey. As an Under-14 warming up for a hockey game, he would work through a collection of some of the stuff we see today – including âThe Zorro,â as made famous by Auston Matthews – and in the bleachers, his father would hear the parents taunt: “Look at that hot dog!” Watch him show off!
Schremp would travel to the London Knights under head coach Dale Hunter, one of the toughest farmers to ever work on an NHL wing in the ’80s and’ 90s. skills and would try things no one else could even think of to do with a puck.
“Dale didn’t like it too much,” Schremp recalled over the phone from Latvia, where he moved into married life as a skills and power play coach, working in Riga. âHe liked skilled hockey, but that kind of field? No chance. Dale has figured out how to win and he’s a competitor. But this stuff had no (value). It was a distraction. He was an old school guy.
âLook,â Schremp continued, âthis game was built on hard-line warriors. You think of the ’60s,’ 70s, ’80sâ¦ It was a war, man. Fights. Rivalry. A man’s game, where he you had to own your piece of ice and earn it every night. Now it is changing. Like, where is fighting now?
Today there is one fight in every 4.2 NHL games. Meanwhile, Calgary’s Matthew Tkachuk tries a shot between the legs at least as often – more times in a month than the entire National Hockey League did in its history prior to 2010.
The junior ranks have all but ceased to fill the league with fighting players, and filling that void left by players like Tony Twist and Bob Probert are highly skilled young children like Zegras, Nick Suzuki, Mitch Marner and even the legendary Patrick Kane. .
The same night, Zegras had Internet with his pass, Connor McDavid tried and failed to score Michigan’s goal against Minnesota, the puck slipping off his stick as he raced around the net.
“They call it ‘Michigan’, but it wasn’t the University of Michigan,” Schremp corrects. “It was Mike Legg who had the courage to succeed in the ‘Sherwood’ era.”
Give Legg credit for a goal scored in the NCAA in 1996, five years before Zegras was born. It was a play that we have seen again and again today, but which “would not have happened twice” in Daneyko’s time.
“Do I think Gretzky and Lemieux and could have done that?” Absolutely, but it just wasn’t a thing back then, âsaid the former New Jersey Devils defenseman. “Could this have happened twice?” Never.
âNo one wanted to show up. It was just the mentality.
Legg’s focus, and subsequent improvement by the Schremps, Kanes and now Zegras, spawned a generation of kids trying to get a Legg out of this great innovator, and an internet phenomenon named Zac Bell, who has taken it all to a whole new level.
When Bell, a Youtube innovator known as Jedi Hockey, started out on Twitter and Instagram, his mentions were filled with negative comments about how he would âget his head screwedâ trying these tricks in a real game. Or that he was a show-off, and sort of now a real hockey entity, but more of a freak show kind of thing.
Then he moved away from social media for a few years, and upon his return, the climate had changed somewhat.
âThere has been a change,â her mom Stacy said on a Youtube doc. “I think more people are now accepting the fact that, you know, it’s kinda cool, and that he does cool things. It’s funny.”
Is watching the Zegras go by any more fun than watching two guys turn off the lights?
This is where we go guys. To a better place, it’s there.