It is that time of year again to discuss the game of hockey. The NHL GMs gathered in Toronto earlier this week to discuss various topics in order to try and improve the game.
While the entire agenda was not released to the public, there are a couple of things that were definitely discussed among the NHL’s executives. One of the topics that was discussed was blindside hits. This topic recently came to the forefront after the Nazem Kadri blindside hit that took place a couple of weeks ago.
Another topic that was discussed involved changes to goaltending equipment. Over the past few years, general managers have discussed ways to change the goaltending equipment in order to try and increase scoring around the NHL.
Are these the right topics the NHL GMs should be discussing? Let’s examine each one closer, and then offer some other topics the NHL GMs should be discussing:
This is a topic that is definitely worth discussing. Player safety is one of the most important things in any professional sport.
The NHL Department of Player Safety really messed up on the Nazem Kadri blindside hit that took place a few weeks ago. He probably should have been suspended, but was not. Any hit that is delivered from the blindside is dangerous and should receive some sort of punishment from the league.
These are the types of hits that need to be removed out of the game completely. The NHL general managers should help offer some insight as to what should be called on the ice and what should be called from the Department of Player Safety. There is no clear punishment for this violation, and it is something that the NHL should try and make better determinations on. General managers, coaches, and fans are frustrated because the NHL has been very inconsistent with their blindside hit rulings over the past several years.
ADJUSTING GOALIE EQUIPMENT
This is a topic that has come up recently due to the fact that scoring around the league has decreased a little bit.
While I am okay with the managers discussing goaltending equipment, it is important to remember that a goalie’s safety should be priority #1. One cannot cut out a piece of goalie equipment, because that piece of equipment may be needed in order to protect the goalie. The managers must take into account that all goalies are different sizes. The managers must make sure the goalie equipment is not trimmed down so much, to where it leaves parts of the goaltender exposed.
I am also amazed that NHL executives want to try to increase scoring around the league. While I am a fan of seeing goals scored, I am also a fan of watching good defense and goaltending on the ice.
The competitive balance around the league is very good, and I think the NHL general managers need to be careful on how they approach things. A 10-10 hockey game would be a drag to watch every night, especially for all of the goaltenders in the world.
SOME OTHER TOPICS FOR DISCUSSION
While I think the goaltending equipment around the NHL is fine, there are other ways the league could increase scoring.
For example, the NHL general managers could discuss removing the trapezoid behind the net. Some goaltenders around the NHL are excellent at moving the puck with their sticks, and could act more as a third defenseman if the trapezoid behind the net was removed.
Here is another idea to increase scoring around the NHL: Make sure the referees call everything they see, versus everything they THINK they see. There is a difference with an additional judgment involved in penalty calls. The NHL should make sure its on-ice officials are properly trained to make every possible call on the ice. With more calls on the ice, more powerplay goals should occur.
While a lot of people love the new 3 on 3 overtime format, I think it looks silly on the ice. There is really no strategy involved with 3 on 3 hockey. It looks like the players just skate around in circles, waiting patiently for a lane to the net to open up. There is minimal defensive play involved in 3 on 3 hockey. One odd ricochet off the boards, and one team has an odd-man rush. I think 3 on 3 hockey should never be played at any professional level. Dare I say, it looks like pond hockey.
The current overtime format is goofy, and needs to return to its roots. The format should be 5 on 5, and 8-10 minutes long. If there is no change in score after the overtime period, the game should end in a tie. There is nothing wrong with games that end in a tie, even though some fans will still publicly scream for a true winner.
If a few extra minutes and more skaters are added to the overtime period, this should help increase the scoring.
Hockey is a sport that continues to evolve each year. As the league has gotten quicker and bigger, new rules have been put in place. Some of these rules will help with player safety. Some of these rules will help determine scoring.
While I am on board with what the GMs are discussing this week, I think there are other topics that should be discussed that may not be on the agenda.
I am a fan at heart, just like most of you. There are some changes I would like to see that may never happen. What changes would you like to see?
By: George Foussekis