Dean Evason has a pretty good view of the new NHL from ice level as an assistant coach of the Washington Capitals.
As of last night, Evason also has a new permanent home -- in the Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame.
Evason was among the 16 individuals inducted last night, along with Dale Hawerchuk, Randy Gilhen, Jordy Douglas, Thomas Steen, Grant Ledyard, Steve Patrick (player category); the late Bill Heindl Sr. (veterans category); Ralph Borger, Ray Frost and Brandon's Jim Mann (builder category); referees Earl Ormshaw and Joe Vinet; the late Dallis Beck (media) and Ed Sweeney (hockey historian). In the team category, the inductees were the 1974 Centennial Cup champion Selkirk Steelers and three Winnipeg Monarchs squads that won the Memorial Cup (1935, 1937 and 1946).
Evason was asked to weigh in on the new rules package and obstruction crackdown in the early stages of the NHL season.
"It's working, it's bringing out the skill package of a lot of individuals and teams," Evason said yesterday from Washington, D.C. "But the thing that worries me and a lot of other people is that a lot of the battles and the hitting is taken out of the game. There's really no confrontations anymore. No competing in front of the net for loose pucks. Guys are just stick checking each other. That's a little bit disturbing. Once the guys realize what they can do and can't, maybe the physical game will come back. You need to find a happy medium."
Gilhen is also concerned by the lack of hitting, but felt it was necessary to make some dramatic rule changes to try and open up the game. However, he's curious how long the increase in scoring will last.
"The big thing is that the coaching is so good in the NHL and I don't see coaches accepting high-scoring games come the first of December," said Gilhen. "It's not going to take long before coaches come up with something. I'd like to see the scoring from October and then the scoring in January."
Douglas has been having fun watching the game after the lengthy lockout.
"The game today is the brand of hockey we were familiar with playing," said Douglas. "As a fan, I say good for them. Let the skilled players be skilled, that's what people come to watch. What's appealing to me is that they crackdown on the intrusive interference. And I love that there's no red line. I'm a big proponent of making every player on the ice skate. I'd like to see one more change. I'd like to see them make any change, at any time during the game has to occur on the fly. If they implemented a rule like that, they'd generate more breakaways with bad line switches and you wouldn't get down with one line matching another line. Showcase the talent."