Like everything else the game of hockey has changed dramatically in the last decade. Hockey Hall of Famer, Wayne Gretzky recently commented,” players are bigger and faster than when I played in the NHL.”
There is no question that that is true with players likes Hall of Fame tough guy Ted Lindsay at 5’8. In his day Lindsay was a feared agitator who was a good at crosschecking and spearing as he was scoring goals.
Today “Terrible” Ted could not survive with the same antics against huge mobile defensemen and forwards in today’s NHL.
The game is certainly different with players like Zdeno Chara, of the Stanley Cup Boston Bruins standing at 6’10.
It could be HGH (Human Growth Hormones) or just Mother Nature, but for whatever the reason hockey players are bigger and stronger than they were just 10 years ago.
Sadly, the negative effect regarding Youth Hockey is the recognition by more and more coaches that a larger player with second tier skills has more overall benefit to the teams winning percentage than a smaller player.
This has endangered the smaller youth players with first class top tier skills shelf life in youth hockey circles.
Many parents are now looking at life after hockey for their talented children before they reach 13 years old. This developement cannot be good for youth players or rink management.
In Atlanta Youth Hockey a possible casualty of this is Dillon Bosquet. Dillon has been a standout youth hockey player for many seasons and has always been a standout performer.
Despite his diminutive stature (he stands at 4 ‘3) Dillon is a marvelous skater and opportunistic goal scorer who is tricky and elusive with the puck.
Dillon is fearless in the corners and will not shy away from any player not matter what they weigh of what their height happens to be.
During the tryouts for the Atlanta Fire Bantam squad the unfathomable happened.
Bosquet was cut from the team!
Dillon’s father Steve Bosquet (a former Atlanta hockey youth coach) said,” Dillon was tired of hockey and wanted to try something else this season.” He is playing some golf and lacrosse,” said Steve Bosquet.
Steve Bosquet admitted that he did not think Dillon was at his best during the tryouts but also said” he was not the worst of the players even given his subpar tryout performance.”
Dillon’s older brother Devan will play on the Fire’s AA Midget team this fall.
Despite his unquestionable ability and love for the game it is also true that several coaches recommended that Dillon try his hand at being a Jockey and not a hockey player given his stature.
One wonders what would the NHL be like today without the contributions of Hall of Famer, Marcel Dionne, and standouts Theo Fluery, Martin St. Louis, Brian Gionta, Patrick Kane, and Brian Rafalski all may have been short in stature but big in heart and talent.
Napoleon Bonaparte would not have tolerated such talk while leading toops into batlle would he?
5’8 superstar Marcel Dionne was a superb skater and goal score who managed despite his height to score over 731 career goals and 1771 points in the NHL. He was voted by hockey writers one of the top 50 players ever to play in the NHL.
Martin St. Louis also 5’8 has managed to produce “big” for the Tampa Bay squad scoring 2just under 300 goals in his career and already winning the Art Ross, Lester Pearson, Hart and Lady Byng Trophies.
Brian Rafalski recently retired form the Red Wings) listed at 5’10 played defense and contributed on numerous Stanley Cup winning teams.
Patrick Kane, and Brian Gionta, both are listed as 5’10 but play more like they are 7 feet tall.
The danger of parents listening to inexperienced coaches is ever present. Marcel Dionne said “ If I listened to everything they said to me growing up I would not have ever made it to the NHL much less the Hall of Fame.”
Larger youth players undoubtedly have been successful in intimidating some smaller players and have led to the decision by USA Hockey to take a hard look at bodychecking and overall physical play in youth hockey games.
No matter what anyone says Dillon Bosquet added a lot of excitement to Atlanta youth hockey and I hope we see him in uniform no matter which team again displaying his big time skills.