Twenty-eight of the NHL's 30 coaches—including the Blue Jackets' Dave King, who was fired last week—responded to a recent SI poll on leaguewide issues. Here are the results, along with some comments. (Coaches were offered anonymity in exchange for their candor.)
After the initial crackdown on obstruction, have referees eased off in calling that penalty?
No response 2
"They've eased off, especially in the defensive zone."..."The referees have not been consistent."..."The refs ease up as the game goes on."
Do you like the hurry-up face-off rule?
No response 1
"It's another way to speed up the game."..."Because of the rule, there are fewer scrums."..."A big plus for fans."..."It gets me home 15-20 minutes earlier so I can have a good night's sleep."
Would you like a no-touch icing rule?
No response 5
"Speed is nullified if you can't beat someone to a loose puck.".... "The rule would take away some excitement."..."We have too much icing in the game already"..."[No-touch icing] is a minor league rule, and it should stay in the minors."
Who is the most exciting player in the NHL?
Mario Lemieux, 12; Mike Modano, 4; llya Kovalchuk, 3; Joe Sakic, 2; Marian Gaborik, Jaromir Jagr, Alexei Kovalev, Nicklas Lidstrom, Markus Naslund and Teemu Selanne, 1. No response 1 "Mario puts people in the stands."...Lemieux is still the most dynamic player."... "Mario is magic."...Mario makes it look easy."
Which young player would you select if you were starting a franchise?
Dany Heatley, 10; Joe Thornton, 7; Marian Gaborik, 4; Rick DiPietro, 2; Jay Bouw-meester, Jarome Iginla and Marty Turco, 1. No response 2
"Heatley has everything—character, skill, size, moxie."..."I'd say Heatley. No, wait. I'd say Thornton."..."The easy answer might be Gaborik or Kovalchuk, but I'd take DiPietro because goaltending wins games."