A quartet of concepts came out of Day 1 of the GM meetings in Boca Raton, Fla., but none of them gained much traction. That’s too bad, because three of the four were solid ideas…
EXTENDING OVERTIME AND GOING 3-ON-3 FOR SOME OF IT
I do like the shootout – it’d actually be better if it featured five shooters per team, but it’s become far too commonplace. As calculated by The Canadian Press, 14 percent of games are now going to the skills competition and 40 percent of games that go past regulation aren’t resolved in the 4-on-4 session. That’s far too many. Anything that can be done to curb the number of shootouts, including the suggestion of doing a dry scrape before OT to improve the ice conditions or switching ends to create a long change during the extra session would be a good move.
EXPANDING VIDEO REVIEW/COACH’S CHALLENGE
There are enough delays as is with the league reviewing each goal. We don’t need further stoppages breaking up the flow of the game. The idea of a “challenge flag,” while dramatic, would cause more problems than it would solve. Would you throw it while the play is going on? Wait until the next whistle? What if 10 minutes have come off the clock? Do we roll it back? And how many problems are there really? The occasional missed offside or icing? There’s not a big enough problem here to justify a drastic and invasive change. This is using a nuke to flatten a mosquito.
FURTHER PROTECTION FOR THE GOALIES
While there’s no epidemic of goalie injuries as there were with quarterbacks in the NFL before that league instituted extreme measures to protect them, it’s still in the best interest of all involved to protect the masked men. Any contact with a keeper in the crease should be a penalty. In turn, goalies shouldn’t be allowed to roam whatsoever to play the puck, which would render the trapezoid unnecessary. And that would a good thing.
CHANGING THE DEFINITION OF A KICKED-IN GOAL
This one is long overdue. I appreciate the need for player safety and the last thing you want is guys with sharp blades strapped to their feet kicking away at pucks while opposition skaters and goalies sprawl along the ice, but watching goals get waved off from a slight readjustment of the boot to deflect the puck in is beyond frustrating. Allowing “skate deflection” goals would be an easy way to increase scoring, which is something we can all get behind.
Unfortunately, there didn't seem to be any talk of getting rid of the "loser point," which is by far the biggest blight on the game. One can only hope the league's decision-makers will come to their senses on that sooner than later.
Edward Fraser, The Hockey News’ Managing Editor, joined THN in 2005 after covering the Jr. B Stratford Cullitons. The London, Ont., native graduated from the University of Western Ontario – where he did campus radio color commentary for both men’s and women’s hockey – with a Master’s in Journalism. He really, really hates the loser point.