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There might be some dispute just when it started, but that there has been a change is indisputable.

The change has been substantial and fundamental.

Hockey today is something quite different from what many of us used to recognize and love.

Yes, I know nothing is forever and change is an inevitable and unavoidable constant, but there is change and then there is change.

Much of this change is unavoidable, and is just accepted as part of life. It’s not better or worse – just different.

When Gordie Howe and Bobby Orr left, there were Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux to thrill us. Johnny Bower retired but then come along a Ken Dryden, Patrick Roy and Marty Brodeur and others.

The voices of Danny Gallivan, Dan Kelly and Dick Irvin are heard no longer, but we get to enjoy Doc Emrick, and Gord Miller instead. Red Fisher has retired but we are blessed with Dave Stubbs.

But still, there is so much that leaves you scratching your head.

Like the North Stars, Nordiques, Jets and Whalers abandoning hockey hotbeds. Or, how about that we’re now 22 years separated from the last time a Canadian team won the Stanley Cup.

In fairness, when looking at story lines out of Canada not all the news is bad. The Flames came North and the Jets returned to Winnipeg, but it does not take much to see the trend, now over decades, from when the league office was in Montreal.

This entry is not one of those looks through rose -colored glasses at a perfect past. Things were not always so great back then. Afterall, there was the goonery of the Broad Street Bullies and the Big Bad Bruin of the 1970’s (good riddance), the nastiness of the Ted Green-Wayne Maki stick swinging incident, that Bobby Hull could not play with Team Canada in 1972, and who can forget what Harold Ballard did to the Leafs (In some ways, they are still trying to recover). And, why did it take so long for there to be a Willie O’Ree ? Then, there is the Hart family story.

No, by no means was the past perfect.

But consider this. Apparently the powers that be in Tampa Bay are taking what some believe are extreme measures to ensure home-ice advantage;The policies include prohibit fans from wearing an opposing team’s apparel in certain club areas and restrict ticket sales to non-Florida residents.

And, such measures are not limited to Tampa and markets in the Sun Belt. Similar steps were taken by the Ottawa Senators in their first round series to avoid having the Canadian Tire Centre being overrun by Montreal fans.

Any thoughts ?

We are left speechless.

To us it raises a number of issues – from First Amendment (if there are any public funds) and “profiling” to questions of fundamental fairness.

At the very least, it’s not a very classy to do business. And, it seems to undermine efforts “to grow the game”.

Thank goodness I can still reach up to my bookshelf and grab a copy of “the Game” to get an eloquent and compelling reminder from Ken Dryden about what the game can be all about.

Or, I can read the classy Dave Stubbs.

Or, listen to Doc Emrick, Gord Miller and Elliot Friedman.

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