Off The Draw
The NHL is about to be taught a valuable lesson by the NHLPA: You don’t get something for nothing.
After years of debate there’s enough internal support for a plan that would stretch overtime to seven minutes, and that would include some periods of three-on-three play. The goal of the general managers who are pushing for the change is to see more games decided via “real hockey” before getting to a shootout.
You can argue the merits of that proposal. The NHL seems to have a good thing going with the shootout. And three-on-three isn’t exactly “real hockey” either.
But it might not matter. The players aren’t all that thrilled with the plan. In fact, they appear ready to shoot it down.
“My real concern is that top guys are going to be put in these situations, and there will be more wear and tear on them,” NHL Players' Association executive Mathieu Schneider told USA Today’s Kevin Allen.
“We’ve seen over the years rules that are implemented in leagues below and they don’t always have the intended effect when we bring them to the NHL because the players are more consistent and more talented,” Schneider added. “I’m not sure we would see the same results at the NHL level.”
While Schneider's doing a lot of talking here, he’s not saying what he really means.
After all, another two minutes tacked on to OT means maybe another minute of ice time for top players every other week or so. Not a particularly cruel imposition on exceptionally well-conditioned athletes.
And the possibility that the change wouldn’t translate to the NHL? There are never any guarantees when rules are altered. Some work, some don’t. It's not like they can’t be rewritten in the future.
But that’s not what this is about.
Here’s the crux of the issue: Without the approval of the players, the change in the overtime format won’t happen. And the players aren’t inclined to let the NHL have something it wants without getting something in return.
In Seinfeldian terms, it’s all about having hand. The players have got it. They’re gonna use it.
There’s no telling so far what they might want in exchange for their compliance here. A bigger slice of the revenue pie? The end of the game day skate? A better dental plan?
Regardless of their motivations, though, the players have every right to play it this way. The league may get its rule change, but not before the players get their cut.
The numbers game
• With 31 goals in the Rangers’ first 48 games of the season, Rick Nash has scored 30 faster than any New York player since Mark Messier and Pat Verbeek both reached the mark in the team’s 46th game of the 1995–96 campaign.
• Two months after his passing, Jean Beliveau’s widow reflects on her legendary husband and learning to move on. Another amazing piece by Dave Stubbs.
• A formerly Russian-based correspondent says that what hockey needs most is another Cold War on ice.
• Here’s the St. Louis perspective on hometown boy Ben Bishop, who leads Tampa Bay into battle with the Blues on Tuesday night.
• For once, Sidney Crosby won’t be the center of attention when Pittsburgh plays the Oilers on Wednesday night in Edmonton.