NHL Thriving on Youth Movement

With the recent retiring of veteran Darcy Tucker it is becoming more evident that the average age of NHL’ers is vastly dropping. For the sake of formality and keeping this brief I will not be ranting today.

The old NHL was a wonderful game, great action, huge crowds and tons of stars. A young 18-year-old, unless of course it’s Gretzky, would never dream of playing in the NHL. A team would almost never bring a young man of that age to the NHL. Now, in the present with the game becoming faster and the salary cap limiting teams from retaining all their players’ young men are joining their NHL clubs more and more.

I cannot say that this is a bad thing as most fans, especially in Canada, where they enjoy the World Juniors more than anything a tournament dominated by young players. However, I do feel for the veterans who are cast away so quickly at the ages of 33-37.

The Buffalo Sabres are a prime example of this new system in the NHL. Before the lockout and for a year or two after it was Buffalo’s club policy to never bring a player up that was 18 or 19. Yet young Tyler Myers was brought up in time to be only 19. Now young Tyler Ennis is expected to stay with the club.

What this means? It means players such as Adam Mair, Toni Lydman & Henrik Tallinder are on the outs. These players were late 20’s to early 30’s and were integral parts of the Sabres team. With the younger players coming up they were simply cast aside to make room.

Over the next few years it will be very intriguing to see the player trends. I would not be surprised for one second to see the average age of an NHL hockey player drop significantly from 28, where it roughly sits now. Whether this creates a problematic situation for the NHL or NHLPA only time will tell.

An average Joe works 40 hours a week for almost every week day of the year. In turn they are rewarded with the seniority system, more years means more experience and often more pay and job security.

In the NHL youth often means more energy, skill and fast pace which leads to more money. Is the NHL backwards or is it just the way hockey has to be?


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