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Blittner’s Blue Line: Yay or Nay to “The Michigan?”

Merry Christmas one and all! I hope you’re enjoying your food, drinks, presents, and family time during this holiday. After all, this is a time for relaxation and celebration – unless you happen to be a Sports Writer with a weekly column. Sports never stop, therefore, neither do we. So, even though the NHL is taking a couple of days off, there’s still work to be done. And, honestly, I don’t mind; not one bit. 

While you’ve all been indulging yourselves with food and drinks I’ve been going down a rabbit hole of flashy goals; specifically, “The Michigan.” Why am I doing this you may ask? Well, what else is there to write about when there are no games for three straight days? Besides, the night before the Christmas break began, two players scored “Michigan Goals” just hours apart; marking the first time in NHL history that two such goals were scored in the same day. 

Blackhawks rookie sensation, Connor Bedard pulled off his first career “Michigan Goal” Saturday night against the Blues, leaving everyone in attendance and watching at home in disbelief. Even “The Great One,” Wayne Gretzky was floored by Bedard’s magnificent goal. Mere hours later, Anaheim’s own Trevor Zegras metaphorically told Bedard to “hold my beer,” – even though Bedard is still three years shy of legally being able to have such a beverage – and scored his third career “Michigan Goal,” thus staking his claim as the GOAT of NHL “Michigan Goals.”

That’s all well and good, but why do I care? And more importantly, why am I writing about this when I should be getting some R&R? Well, every time a “Michigan Goal” is scored in the NHL it brings back the debate regarding whether such a move should even be allowed. Now, by no means am I in any position to make such a decision. But, I can at least look at this objectively and help you decide which side of the fence you fall on. 



Has there ever been a more obvious reason to allow something to occur? By and large, Hockey is a sport driven off intense energy and emotions. From the ever-quickening speed of the game to the thunderous reactions massive open ice hits generate, there is no doubt that Hockey and its fans rely quite a bit on energy and emotions. And what better emotion to draw energy from than that of ecstasy? Every time a “Michigan Goal” is attempted, let alone successfully converted, the crowd goes nuts. Even the commentators and people on social media get in on the celebration. 


Current Flyers’ Head Coach John Tortorella notably expressed his disdain for “The Michigan” while he was a member of ESPN’s show The Point. Tortorella exclaimed that “The Michigan” was not good for the game of Hockey and that if he were ever coaching a player who attempted the move in a game, he would, “have a stern talk” with that player afterward. 

This reaction drew considerable criticism from all corners of the Hockey World as many took to social media to lambast Tortorella for his “angry old man yelling at the clouds” take. While I don’t agree with Tortorella’s opinion, I must grudgingly admit, he has a point.

In a sport where players do everything possible not to make waves and to put the team ahead of the individual, it does feel like a move as flashy as “The Michigan” goes against that core principle. 


As more and more young, skilled players enter the NHL there’s going to be a natural evolution in creativity and play style. “The Michigan” is just one example of that. Just because it goes against how things were done in the past, that doesn’t mean it’s bad for the game in the present. 


The motion of lifting your hockey stick in the air and slamming it towards the net is filled with risk. If the player attempting “The Michigan” isn’t careful, he can hurt the goaltender with the blade of his stick. All it takes is one wrong move, or being off target by a fraction of an inch, for something to go horribly wrong. 

Besides, once a player gets their stick in the air to attempt “The Michigan,” the only way for the opposition to defend the play would be to slash the player attempting the move. If that isn’t an injury waiting to happen, not to mention an easy penalty to call, then I don’t know what is.


There have only been five players in the history of the NHL to pull off the move during a game successfully. 

Andrei Svechnikov, Trevor Zegras, Filip Forsberg, Kent Johnson, and Connor Bedard are the only players to ever score a “Michigan Goal” in an NHL game; with Svechnikov and Zegras being the only ones to do it multiple times. 

With how rare it is there is no reason to ban the move. Oh, wait…


It would be in the NHL’s best interest to eliminate the move while it can before more and more players make it part of their arsenal. An example of this would be “The Brodeur Rule,” which created the trapezoid behind the net. The League essentially limited what a goaltender could do with the puck because Martin Brodeur was too good at helping his team create offense. If the NHL can change its rules because of just one player then who’s to say they can’t, or shouldn’t, do so in this case as well?


There’s no doubt it’s a cool move. With how difficult it is to score goals in the NHL, I’m firmly in favor of letting players have more freedom with their attempts to create more offense. Granted, if we start seeing players routinely attempting trick shots during games and behaving like YouTubers who just want attention, then that’ll be going too far. But there’s no evidence that’s where we’re headed. So I’m all for “The Michigan.”


With that, I bid you adieu and I look forward to what 2024 has in store for us and this column. 

photo by Sportsology

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