Jason Franson/Canadian Press
Earlier this week, the NHL General Managers met in Boca Raton, Florida to discuss the current state of hockey. With multiple rule changes on the agenda, the NHL General Managers decided to stand pat on everything right now, and not make any significant changes.
Was it a good thing for the General Managers to stand pat with the current rules? How could hockey change in the next 5-10 years? What should fans expect in the future?
Let’s look at how the game might evolve over time:
Offside rule: I do not think the rule will be changed anytime soon. I think the NHL should invest more money in camera and replay technology in the future. The tablets the on-ice officials use to judge replays are too small, and it is hard to make judgment calls with such small tablets. The new cameras along the bluelines are nice, but more cameras could be added along the bluelines. I feel a camera could be placed at the top of the glass somewhere close to the blueline. I feel a camera could also be placed somewhere inside of the boards along the blueline too. The offside rule is still a work in progress, but advanced technology along the blueline could help speed the process up with reviews.
Shootouts: What is the future with shootouts? Do people enjoy them after watching the 3-on-3 periods? I have never accepted the shootout, so it would not surprise me if the NHL found more ways to try to limit the number of shootouts. Could the NHL possibly extend the 3-on-3 overtime period to 7-10 minutes, and get rid of the shootouts completely? I feel the future of the shootout is in jeopardy, and I am not upset about that.
Points System: The NHL is going to have to eventually come up with a new points system. There are too many “loser” points that get handed out daily. The NHL needs to find ways to reward teams for regulation wins. I am all for the NHL adopting a 3-point regulation win system. I would also be in favor of a 2-point regulation win system, if the “loser” point did not exist. Too many teams have benefited from the loser points over the years. Lookng at you, Florida Panthers.
Faceoff circles: Recently, the NHL has thrown around the idea of new faceoff circles. Some GMs have proposed new rectangular lines on the ice, instead of circles. Some GMs have even proposed having one big circle, in the middle of the ice, to increase offense. I feel the NHL needs to leave the current ice surface alone and not mess with the lines. If the league shifts to an offensive approach with the faceoff lines, goaltenders will begin to give up more goals. It will also likely cut down on good board play and competing for positioning. If the NHL wants to adjust the lines on the ice, the NHL should ditch the trapezoid behind the net. The trapezoid serves no purpose anymore, and goaltenders should have the right to play the puck on their stick more.
HOW WILL HOCKEY LOOK 5-10 YEARS FROM NOW?
Hockey has evolved in my lifetime. There was once a time where players could clutch and grab their opponents and compete hard for positioning on the ice.
Now, hockey has become faster and more skilled. The league is thirsty for more goals scored on the ice. Fighting is on the decline, and will probably continue to decline.
It is hard to predict how the hockey landscape will be 5-10 years from now, but the league has gotten younger and younger over the past few years. It is not uncommon to see 19 and 20 year olds playing top-level roles in the NHL now.
I expect the league will continue to get quicker and more skilled. I would also expect to see smaller players get more chances in the NHL. The league has become more adaptive to players of smaller stature.
At the rate the NHL wants more offense, I could see the league do the unthinkable and make the nets bigger. With goaltenders getting bigger and more flexible, the NHL will probably want to give shooters a better chance to score more goals. I am not a fan of bigger nets, but I feel the NHL will do anything necessary to create more offense over time.
By: George Foussekis