Mark Messier: Bigger NHL nets would ruin integrity of game

Mark Messier joins Prime Time Sports to talk about scoring in today’s NHL, what he would change in the game, and some of his favourite players.

When it was revealed in November that the NHL would be open to the idea of bigger nets, it raised some eyebrows.

While many feel it could make for a more entertaining game – even Hall of Fame goalie Patrick Roy would be in favour of bigger nets – not everyone is on board.

“I’m a huge traditionalist,” Mark Messier told Prime Time Sports on Sportsnet 590 The Fan Wednesday. “I’m into the history of the game and I don’t believe we should alter the integrity of the game by enlarging our nets to try to produce more offence. I don’t think that’s a good idea and I don’t like the idea of that.

“I’m certainly willing to listen to the debate on the other side of that conversation, but I think the biggest thing we have going for us is [tradition]…Preserving the history and tradition of our game is huge and making sure that these kids coming in understand the players that have come before them to pave the way for them. When you start measuring up players for the fans, for conversation, we alter our game where it doesn’t matter what’s happened in the past. I don’t think that’s good for the game. I don’t think that’s healthy.

“Records aside. It doesn’t matter, records are meant to be broken. It’s not about that for me. It’s more about the integrity of the game and the tradition and allowing us to have conversations and talk about Bobby Orr against Gordie Howe or Bobby Orr against Paul Coffey or Bobby Orr against Erik Karlsson or [Drew] Doughty or some of the great defencemen and how are we going to do that when there’s two completely different games?”

Goals are down in the NHL this season, but it’s not something the six-time Stanley Cup champion is concerned about.

“I think goal scoring can be entertaining. It’s a big part of our game, obviously, but I don’t put all my emphasis on goal scoring,” Messier said. “There’s more parity in the game. Goaltending is at an all-time high as far as the way the position is played. Out of all the positions and everything that’s happened in hockey in the last 20-30 years…is the goaltending position [that has changed the most].”

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