Erik Erlendsson covers the Tampa Bay Lightning for The Tampa Tribune.
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Steve Yzerman questions motives behind Versus criticism of 1-3-1 trap
Posted Nov 17, 2011 by Erik Erlendsson
Updated Nov 17, 2011 at 03:20 PM
The meeting of the league’s 30 general managers earlier this week figured to center around Philadelphia’s tactics last week against Tampa Bay’s neutral zone trap when the Flyers sat on the puck in their own zone refusing to move it forward unless Lightning players came up to forecheck.
The move led to plenty of reaction around the league and led to criticism of the Lightning’s style of play. The harshest critics came during the intermission of the game, which was broadcast nationally in the United States on Versus, from studio analysts Keith Jones and Mike Milbury who called Tampa Bay’s style of play “embarrassing’’.
Tampa Bay general manager Steve Yzerman questions the motives of the criticism coming from the Versus analysts.
“Versus is owned by Comcast, Comcast owns the Flyers, Keith Jones is a broadcaster with the Flyers and is hardly impartial,’’ Yzerman said. “I think that anybody that looks at that objectively should be saying, “Did Tampa do the right thing or Did Philadelphia do the right thing’’ and you can make an argument both ways.’’
When the league’s GMs got together on Tuesday in Toronto, that was the crux of the situation, they discussed it as part of the agenda and essentially agreed to monitor things and deal with them accordingly should another team try the same stall tactics against Tampa Bay, or any other team.
“In general felt like this has happened in 8,000 or so games since coming out of the lockout, so let’s not overreact to it,’’ Yzerman said. “If more situations like that occur and become regular, that we’ll have to look at ways to govern or legislating a team’s inability, whether it be the offense or the defense, so we don’t have situations like that occur.’’
Yzerman said the discussions centered around whether or not something should be done now rather than what precisely should be done. Prevention would be the next step should a similar situation arise, and at that point it would have to be determined whether it’s the responsibility of the team with the puck to move it forward or the team in the defensive posture to come and forecheck.
“If this becomes a regular issue, it will be discussed again,’’ Yzerman said. “But to me, we have take the red line (at center ice) out of the game and made the end zones bigger, so what happens in the end zones is everybody retreats to the front of the net and you have five guys in front of your net blocking shots, you can’t get pucks through to the net.
“In the neutral zone, teams retreat into the neutral zone and you see a 1-4 (formation), you see a 1-2-2 and you see a 1-3-1 in any game. So at any time in any game, the team with the puck can decide we are just going to stay here and stop and force you to come to us. Then that team is going to have a decision to make, do I go or do I not go.’’
The next general manager’s meeting is scheduled to take place in March.