Lemieux: Consider Full-Time 4-on-4
PITTSBURGH (AP) ? Mario Lemieux, convinced the NHL isn't nearly as wide open as he thought from the owner's box, wonders if the league should play with four skaters a side all the time, not just in overtime.
Lemieux, speaking as much as the Pittsburgh Penguins owner as a player, said more wide-open hockey would develop new fans and help eliminate tactics such as the neutral zone trap.
``Maybe that's something the league has to take a look at to open up the game,'' Lemieux said. ``I don't know if it's (that) or making the ice wider or bigger. The players are so big and strong, there is no room on the ice 5-on-5, especially when a team plays a trap.
``When you have 4-on-4, and you have some great players on the ice, the game is very exciting.''
Penguins captain Jaromir Jagr had the same idea last year. However, the NHL Players Association no doubt would be against any radical change that might eliminate players' jobs, even if 4-on-4 play forced coaches to use more lines and make quicker line changes.
Lemieux's remarks came after the Penguins were held to four goals in two games by the expansion Minnesota Wild, who have embraced the neutral zone trap in their first year of existence.
Lemieux criticized the Wild's clutching and grabbing following a 4-2 loss Sunday and said it wasn't the style of play the NHL was trying to sell.