NHL needs exciting series to revive sport

Teams should copy the Flames' and Lightning's up-tempo, aggressive, hard-forechecking, fast-skating style.

Updated: May 25, 2004, 12:50 PM ET
By By Jim Wilkie | NHL Insider
NHL team management honchos and coaches aren't all the most original and creative bunch to begin with, but after the Calgary-Tampa Bay Stanley Cup final a welcome change would take place if more teams copy the Flames' and Lightning's up-tempo, aggressive, hard-forechecking, fast-skating style.

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"We are notorious copycats in sports," former Lightning general manager Phil Esposito told the Tampa Tribune. "Teams are starting to go this way, open it up a little bit, make it more entertaining, the defense joining the play as soon as possible so you can create three-on-two breaks. I love it, and I think this is the way the game was always [meant to be] played."

It's still a long way from the wide-open, free-flowing action from the 1980s and the Edmonton Oilers' heyday, but end-to-end action in the playoff games leading up to the finals, which begin Tuesday night at Tampa, Fla., are at least a step in the right direction.

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