With the shortened season coming to a close all too soon, it’s that time when fans of the beloved and holy ice sport will begin making their blanket statements on changes that would positively influence the game. Here are a few of mine.
After the millennium’s first NHL lockout, the league dropped ties and there was much rejoicing. They replaced it an event typically only All-Star Skills Challenges and climaxes in Disney movies . This would be like going into baseball, removing extra innings and replacing it with the Home Run Derby. This would be like going to the NBA and deciding ties over a game of horse. This is like having the NFL with a 15:00 overtime. It’s boring. People want more game. Keep the first five minutes overtime the same. Then give the guys a lot more space. Overtime breakaway goals will become a staple.
Dropping Hockey’s Charity Point
While I’ve never liked the shootout, I know that it’s here to stay and it will probably be a while before (if) we see the NHL add more hockey to games. Thus, I’m willing to concede this option for a change in the points system. This isn’t a novel concept , but I think it’s worth another look. For those that didn’t click the link, teams currently receive two points for an outright win, no points for a loss, and one point for clinging to life into overtime. This gives a team no incentive to try hard in a tie game. The end-of-game hockey stalemate leads to a quotidian match, unenjoyable by the fans and the players. Giving players the incentive to score would lead to actual endgame tactics that are intellectually and physically challenging.
Unwashing Icing for the Penalty Kill
As it currently stands in the rule book, when a team goes on the PK, they are no longer subjected to icing, leading to frenetic chases to the puck on the short-handed end to clear it the size of the rink. Outside of a team playing in the PNC Arena, you’re effectively rewarding the team that just took a penalty. This is like handing someone an answer sheet after they get caught cheating on a test. It doesn’t really teach them a lesson. The thought here is that defending teams are relegated to aiming to the red line, attacking teams will have more opportunity to score.
Increasing Rink Size to International Standards
International hockey is played on a sheet of ice that is nearly twenty feet wider than its NHL equivalent. A wider pond would give players a lot more room, enabling more plays, opportunities to catch sleeping goalies from behind the net . This is where I lose stadium owners. This would heavily affect seating on the front rows, directly hurting how many high-income season ticket holders they can serve in their arenas. However, this is America, and I think I can sell them on the idea of a bigger is better. I would just start with Jerry Jones, have him buy the Dallas Stars and persuade him he can’t have a big screen television the size of Japan without a rink the size of Japan with it.
Widening the Goal Mouth
This is where I lose the purists or they begin sending hate mail while I wake up next to half of a hockey stick. Our friends at QuantHockey show that scoring is down immensely since the 80s. This is due to better defenses, faster goaltenders, and the retirement of Wayne Gretzky. Of these problems, the easiest to change is the goaltending situation. I know how sacred the twenty-four square feet of netminding space is to casual enthusiasts and hardcore hockey fans, but at a time when people are losing faith in the league, it’s of utmost importance to win back and win over everybody we possibly can. The best offense is a great offense. Increase scoring, increase ratings, increase fans. Phoenix will be most overjoyed.