NHL players have been busy getting ready for the season – and making the rounds with the media. ESPN caught up with some of the league’s top players in Les Vegas last week to talk about how they spent their summers, offseason moves, teams and players to watch, and rule changes. Check out the full article at ESPN.com.
While they’re all interesting topics, we couldn’t wait to hear what changes NHL players would like to make to the rulebook.
New York Islanders forward Mat Barzal wants to start by eliminating officials.
“You know what I did? I made a list of rules that I would change,” said Barzal, referring to a document on a his phone. “Here it is: ‘Ideas for The Game.’ Here’s what the league needs to do: The league needs to find a way to only have two refs on the ice. The refs are in the way all the time. There needs to be a way to have the game controlled without officials being in the way. It’s always happening.”
Interesting. We thought for sure he’d be lobbying to let players play the puck from the penalty box.
A handful of players want to update the rules around interference and offside, along with the Coach’s Challenge.
“Goalie interference,” suggested New York Rangers defenseman Jacob Trouba. “It’s a hard one. Don’t get rid of it, but there’s just too many times when you see something that you know is a goal or not a goal and then it goes the other way, and you just don’t get it. Which isn’t good. It can’t be black and white. I get that. But people should come to the same conclusion.”
Stars goalkeeper Jake Oettinger is on the same page.
“More definitive goalie interference rules,” said Oettinger. “Make it more cut-and-dry. Every play is different but you never know. They can be tough, controversial calls.”
Arizona’s Clayton Keller wants to eliminate the offside review – “Just let it happen” – while Calgary’s Jonathan Huberdeau prefers a more drastic approach, eliminating the blueline altogether.
“Probably offside,” said Huberdeau. “You can be wherever you want in the zone so you don’t need to backcheck.”
Montreal Canadiens captain Nick Suzuki suggested a change popular among fans and broadcasters.
“Maybe delay of game for shooting the puck over the glass,” said Suzuki. “I just don’t really like it. It’s like no one really tries to shoot it over the glass during a game to stop the play. Maybe if the rule wasn’t there, then guys might do it. I just feel like it’s something you don’t want to do anyway.”
Suzuki hasn’t been called for a Delay of Game penalty since January 23, 2021; Montreal was called six times last season for putting the puck over the glass.
Goaltender Darcy Kuemper wants his freedom back.
“Get rid of the trapezoid,” Kuemper suggested, “so I can play the puck everywhere.”
He’s been called for throwing objects at the puck, intentionally delaying the game, and 15 other infractions over the past few seasons — but never for a trapezoid violation.
A few players were in support of a change to overtime.
“I think 3-on-3 should go until somebody scores, no shootout,” offered new Florida Panthers winger Matthew Tkachuk.
Vegas Golden Knights forward Mark Stone agreed.
“I know it is a logistical nightmare, but it would be to keep playing 3-on-3 [until one team scores],” said Stone. “I’d get rid of shootouts as well. The reason I say that is we lost three shootouts last year and missed the playoffs! I think we would have had a better chance in 3-on-3.”
Boston Bruins netminder Jeremy Swayman was a bit more complacent with the existing slate.
“Get rid of a rule? I don’t know,” said Swayman. “They have a pretty good rule set to be honest. Yeah, I don’t mind it. I just stop the puck! That’s all I care about!”
Way to stay focused, Jeremy!
Let’s hope the NHL’s Competition Committee was taking notes.
Be sure to visit ESPN.com for the rest of the players’ suggestions; thanks to ESPN’s Ryan Clark, Kristen Shilton, and Greg Wyshynski for the reporting.