It has been windy and warm in Boca Raton, Florida over the past few days, but the NHL General Managers gathered together to discuss the current state of hockey. The NHL general managers also took the time to discuss what hockey will look like 5-10 years from now.
What else was on the agenda for the NHL General Managers? Will there be any changes to the game soon? What should hockey fans look forward to in the future?
Let’s break down the topics that were discussed:
Offside review: There have been 100 reviews over offside this season, some of them include the foot over the blueline. This has become a hot topic because the reviews are very inconsistent. The players, coaches, and fans have become frustrated with the length of reviews. The reviews average over 2 minutes in length, but fans have seen some that have gone on for 6-8 minutes. The offside rule is still a work in progress with review, but the NHL is going to have to draw a line with how a player’s foot or skate needs to be on the ice with goals scored.
Faceoff circles: It looks like some discussions took place on faceoff circles. Some GMs have suggested to put one single faceoff circle in the middle of the ice, in between the current circles. This change did not gain much steam, so there will probably be nothing that comes of it for a while.
Shootout changes: The NHL GMs have discussed re-doing the shootout format. There has been talks of letting teams re-use shooters that have already gone. This is being discussed to shorten the length of shootouts. This is something that has been done internationally, and the new format could soon find its way to the NHL.
Timeout changes: The NHL GMs have recommended a change to the timeout rule. They have recommended that timeouts cannot be used after an icing. This is a creative way to try and create more offense around the NHL. This rule change must get approval from the Competition Committee and the NHL Board of Governors.
Points system: The points system has been a hot topic around the NHL over the past couple of seasons. Some are in favor of getting rid of the “loser point” when games end in overtime and shootout. Some are in favor of a 3-point win for a regulation win, and a 2-point win for an overtime or shootout win. The NHL will likely change the points system a few years down the road, but nothing seems imminent with this rule change.
The new bye weeks have become a major headache for the NHL. Most teams that came out of bye weeks this season did not perform well.
It appears that bye weeks for clubs will become a 2-week period next season. Half of the clubs will be on bye the first week, while the other half of the clubs will be on bye the next week. This will likely be better for the clubs and each individual player. Toronto Maple Leafs Head Coach Mike Babcock is not a fan of the bye week, citing player safety issues as a concern.
Buffalo Sabres GM Tim Murray was upset with the scheduling of the Sabres bye week this year. The Sabres had to fly to Colorado coming out of their bye week, which is not an easy trip for them.
Gary Bettman has come out and said publicly that the NHL is preparing a schedule that does not include the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics.
For now, the NHL seems very concerned about attending the next Winter Olympics. Barring a miracle at this point, it appears the NHL will not send its players over. Some owners are very concerned about player injuries, and they want to protect their assets.
The NHL salary cap is not expected to rise much from its current number of $73 million. From the recent reports, the NHL salary cap could climb to $76 million, or it could stay right where it is right now.
By: George Foussekis