Friday, January 14, 2011

A Man Down

The true sign that a hockey team has become a dynasty can come in several different ways. Usually, the tag, dynasty, comes after a club has won consecutive Stanley Cups. Their talent base being so strong, no opponent in the league can wrestle Lord Stanley from their clutches.

Dec. 1955

In the case of the Montreal Canadiens of the mid-1950s, another factor came into play. As in power play. During that era, when a team had the man advantage, it was for the full 2 minutes of the penalty. If they scored, the penalized player couldn't leave the box. The Canadiens power play was so efficient and successful, it was the main reason for a major rule change. In the 1956-57 season, a new rule was implemented by the NHL "A player serving a minor penalty allowed to return to ice when a goal is scored by an opposing team".

The tell-tale signs of this rule change were first evident the year prior (1955-56) to it going into effect. A December 1955 article provided some detail on the genesis of this rule change.

Some time back, NHL President Clarence Campbell remarked that a minor penalty became too drastic when the ganging team scored two goals while the other team was short-handed.
 He said he felt that a penalty system which would allow a player serving a minor penalty to return to the ice as soon as his team was scored upon had a great deal of merit. This system is on trial in the Western Hockey League and, according to Campbell, folks out there are very happy with it.
 Of course, if a player is assessed a major penalty, he sits out his full time, regardless of how many goals are scored against his team.
 The NHL chief has a batch of statistics which prove that Canadiens are just a first-line team when playing rivals on even terms, but that, when they get the man advantage, they become supermen.
 He pointed to a  recent Hab-Chicago game as a case in mind. The Hawks drew two early penalties and the Habs struck for two goals on each occasion to settle the issue before the game was one period old.
Not only were the Montreal Canadiens responsible for a rule change, but they were on their way to capturing 5 straight Stanley Cups (1955-56 to 1959-60).

Now that's a dynasty.

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