NHL General Managers meet throughout the year and during the off season in the NHL to discuss various ways of changing the NHL to make things smoother, to enhance the game play – and to sometimes just screw up what should be a simple game played by the best players in the league.
In the last round of meetings that just took place, the general managers discussed changes to the video replay system, the draft lottery, and a coaches challenge.
Instead of just going in depth into the suggestions that they are considering, I offer you the changes that I think should happen in the coming seasons of the NHL to make the league a better place.
From TSN, what coaches can challenge will be limited, currently the discussion includes:
What coaches might be able to challenge includes goals scored on plays that should’ve been offside, the puck hitting the protective netting, the wrong player getting penalized and the puck going over the glass for a penalty.
If you are going to include the coaches challenge – why limit it? Sure you don’t want every play to be challenged – the NHL does a good job of ensuring games are played fast – but the fact of the matter is – it is a fast paced game and there are things that need to be slowed down and looked at again. Here are plays that that I feel should be called into question.
1) Goal scrums. When the puck goes in the net and its not a clear cut blast from the point – take a look at it. Was it kicked in, pushed in by hand – how did the puck end up in the net. When did the whistle go? The NFL reviews every touchdown – and while goals in the NHL don’t always happen under questionable circumstances – there are a fair number that go in and every one is like…how the hell did that go in the net. It doesn’t always have to be reviewed by the on ice officials – expand the war room, and send a go ahead to the on ice offical’s when play can resume.
Goal scrums don’t always include goals, but sometimes they could include penalties. Take for instance last night – the LA Kings lost out on a goal because of the snow piled up in the crease. The forward momentum of the puck was stopped because of a snow fort that built up behind the puck. Goalies create snow in the crease for that exact reason. What could have been called into question was the play of Derek Stepan who pushed the puck away from the goal line legally, but came ever so close to covering it up in the ensuing scrum.
2) Questionable Penalties. How many times does a player go to the box when it clearly wasn’t his fault – or he was the player the referee called a penalty on? It is the 21st century. There are plenty of technological advancements available, lets use them to get it right. I really like this for that stupid delay of game penalty when the puck gets flipped over the glass in the defensive zone.
3) Goaltender interference. As far as when goals are concerned, who cares if it is not a black and white issue. You don’t need to turn it into a inquisition – but if the goalie was interfered with – take a second and look at it. If your going to consider off side plays that result in goals – you have to include goalie interference. The fact of the matter is – its a judgement call. By allowing for video review, your not taking the judgement call out of it – but your allowing the referee’s the chance to see the play up close again – seeing something he missed in real time.
You don’t want coaches throwing something on the ice. So use that little red light in the officials booth. Tie in a buzzer system and give an assistant coach a hand held buzzer. He clicks the buzzer, the light goes on. Instant notification.
It will be difficult to manage this from an in game perspective. How many challenges do you get? How is the team penalized? With only one time out in the entire game – you have to think the NHL will come up with a different plan.
Make Offensive Zones Bigger
You don’t need to move the boards, you don’t have to remove seats. You make the blue line bigger. I have been talking about this since the first lockout when Scotty Bowman presented the idea. You make the blue lines bigger. Current blue lines are painted to be the width of twelve inches. That’s not very big given how fast NHL players skate on a rush. By adding six inches on either side of the blue line, making the blue line twenty-four inches, you are making the blue lines larger, shrinking the size of the neutral zone.
This should help eliminate some off sides calls, and give more room for power play opportunities to develop. A larger blue line gives defenseman more opportunity to keep the play alive.
Change NHL Rules To Comply With IIHF
Why not? Certainly we have a smaller ice surface, but I have seen comments on various articles suggesting this. The IIHF is the governing body of hockey throughout the world. Shouldn’t every play by the same rules?
While most arena’s in the NHL are not in need of a rebuild, the NHL might want to consider making international ice mandatory for all new builds after a specific date. Granted, that is a topic for a whole different conversation, but – with IIHF rules come IIHF ice.
Now you want to expand the trapezoid behind the net? How about this - get rid of the trapezoid. We are going to get to a point where goalies and the competition commitee will want to continue pushing it out until the “restricted zone” is a place where most goalies don’t go anyways.
You want to improve scoring – harken back to an old day when NHL goaltenders had to remain on their feet. Just take a look at Game Four of the Stanley Cup Finals. The NHL would be talking about the Los Angeles Kings as NHL Champions – except for the fact that the New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist owned the bottom of the net.
There are plenty of other changes that can be made to make the game better, to flow faster; and to make it more entertaining. I could sit here and go on and on about rules I think could be changed. I would love to hear your thoughts on changes you would make to change the NHL for the better.
Maybe I can tackle more in depth issues over the summer.