The NHL’s Competition Committee met on Monday to discuss potential changes to the game. All proposals must be approved by the league’s General Managers before going to the NHL Board of Governors and Executive board for final approval. Here’s what they’ve proposed:
Recommended Rule Changes
Allow coaches to challenge a ruling on the ice. Panthers GM Dale Tallon has long been in favor of introducing a coach’s challenge. “Now people are seeing what happens in a critical game and a critical situation that can cost people jobs,” said Dale Tallon. “It works in the NFL.” Tallon has proposed allowing challenges for both goalie interference and offside plays that directly lead to a goal. He argues that the benefit outweighs the potential delay, and that it would be used only in critical situations. “I’m saying one time per game, one goal, one time per coach,” he said. “That’s it. It’s not going to happen that often. Let’s get [the calls] right.”
Per CSNNE’s Joe Haggerty, the challenge would be utilized for offside calls on goals or whether a puck is shot over the glass in its initial introduction into the NHL.
Expansion of the Trapezoid
Extending the trapezoid from 18′ to 22′ along the goal line. The 28′ length along the end boards would remain the same. The additional 2′ on each side would give goaltenders more opportunities to play the puck. “It will allow the goalies a little more room to go out and give their defensemen some help,” said Schneider of the proposed change.
Moving the Faceoff Hashmarks
Pushing the offensive/defensive zone faceoff hashmarks wider, from 3.5′ to 5′ – the current IIHF standard. The alignment would create more room on draws, ideally leading to fewer scrums.
“There’s a feeling that this will create more offense, that forwards on a won draw in the offensive zone will have more time to make plays, more room to make plays,” Schneider said. “On the flip side, it’s going to reduce the amount of scrums that we have on faceoffs by separating those players a little more.”
Tighter Control on Icing Faceoffs
Only one defensive player would be permitted to take the draw following an icing call. After one faceoff violation, the next would incur a penalty, as already spelled out in the NHL rulebook under Rule 76.6. Defending teams have had wingers line up for the draw to intentionally get tossed from the circle. Changing to the replacement faceoff man – usually the center – buys additional time for the team’s players to rest. This change would prevent a replacement player from taking the draw and hopefully result – along with the hashmark change – in cleaner faceoffs that result in more offense.
“What you’re seeing now is a trend that’s emerged that on the icing faceoffs, a winger will go right in there and crash right through to get the extra 10 seconds rest and then the center iceman will go in [to take the faceoff],” Campbell said. “The two-minute penalty is now in the books, but we are stressing that penalty should be called more often.”
Tougher Penalties for Embellishment
Players found to embellish or dive would receive warnings and fines. They’d also proposed extending fines to coaches and teams.
“We feel embellishment in the game is a real problem today,” Campbell said. “We understand players try to draw penalties. We feel it’s out of control, and we’ve discussed another approach at embellishment, similar to the rule that’s already in the rule book. But there would not be a game suspension attached to that, there would be a warning and fines.”
With multi-million dollar salaries, the league will have to do more than just the current maximum fine of $5,000 if they really hope to deter diving. Tougher on-ice penalties might be the better approach, though those are handed out without the luxury of a replay review which we’d assume would take place before the league’s fine.
Switching Sides in Overtime
The ‘long change’ in the second period should lead to more scoring in overtime, resulting in fewer shootouts. The longer trek to the bench makes line changes tougher, increasing the likelihood of a player getting caught on a change or stuck on an extended shift. Deadspin’s Stephen Pettigrew crunched the numbers to estimate a resulting 34% decrease in shootouts.
They’ve also recommended a dry scrape by the Zamboni prior to dropping the puck in the extra session. Currently, the ice is untouched between the third period and overtime; it receives only a scrape before the shootout.
“The theory is to increase goal scoring within regulation or 4-on-4 — trying to not allow teams to play to get to the shootout is the goal here,” Schneider said. “We’re trying to end more games 5-on-5 or 4-on-4 in overtime.”
According to Elliotte Friedman, the Competition Committee also discussed possible changes to goaltender interference and the possibility of expanding video review. They also considered outlawing the spin-o-rama in shootouts — a change the IIHF has already made to their rulebook for 2014-15. The committee reportedly also looked at expanding what’s permissible for pucks kicked into the net, possibly modifying the use of the current standard “distinct kicking motion.”
Expanding Video Review?
While nothing was formally proposed on changes to the video review process, it was discussed at length by the Competition Committee.
“I think [NHL Commissioner] Gary [Bettman] said it best in the meeting when he said, ‘Once we go to video review there’s an expectation that we’re going to get these calls right all the time,'” Schneider said to NHL.com. “You can have two reasonable people sitting in a room watching the same video and have two very different opinions on that video. It becomes, like Gary said, very complex. The feeling is right now we’re not at the point where we could get a meaningful video review that would have a 100 percent outcome.”
“We talked about pucks over the glass, we talked about offside goals,” said Colin Campbell. “Then, it comes to the question if it’s an offside play: how much time? Is it five seconds? Is it ten seconds? Change of possession? On the rush? Puck leaving the zone? What if a minor occurs during that time and a goal was scored but the play was offside? Does the minor come down? Does a double-minor come down? Does a major [penalty] come down?”
Though the Competition Committee didn’t propose anything further, discussions will certainly continue about the possibility of expanding the use of review.
NHL Competition Committee Members
The current Competition Committee includes players, general managers, and one owner.
- Players – Mike Cammalleri (Calgary), Ron Hainsey (Carolina), Cory Schneider (New Jersey), Kevin Shattenkirk (St. Louis), and Daniel Winnik (Anaheim)
- GMs – Peter Chiarelli (Boston), Ken Holland (Detroit), Don Maloney (Phoenix), and David Poile (Nashville)
- Owner – Ed Snider (Philadelphia)
- NHL – Colin Campbell (Senior Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations) – non-voting
- NHLPA – Mathieu Schneider (NHLPA Special Assistant to the Executive Director) – non-voting
One key group that’s not represented? The officials. From former NHL referee Paul Stewart:
People wonder why “NHL officiating is so inconsistent.” It is because the guys who have to make the calls on the ice are not given a role in setting the parameters for some of the toughest calls they have to make and then are not properly instructed in how to call them and especially how to position themselves to get the best possible look.
These recommendations now go in front of the NHL’s General Managers, who are also meeting this week. Following that, they’d move on to the NHL’s Board of Governors and Executive Board for final approval. The Board of Governors meets June 26 in New York. The Executive Board meets July 16-19 in Pebble Beach, California.
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