ESPN recently conducted their pre-season player survey at the NHL Player Media Tour. While the entire Q&A makes for a fascinating read, we were most interested in the players’ thoughts around updating the rulebook. Here are a few highlights:
Power Plays Continue After A Goal
Winnipeg Jets defenseman Josh Morrissey wants to make like Marty McFly and turn the clock back to 1955, when a penalized player was still required to sit for the full two minutes even if a goal was scored.
“If you score on the power play, the power play doesn’t end, so you get the full two minutes,” suggested Morrissey. “As a guy that’s on the power play, I wouldn’t mind having it be the full two minutes regardless, so that might be a selfish answer.”
Bring Back the Red Line
Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby also wanted to go back in time, though not quite as far. Crosby suggested the NHL bring back the center red line – or, more specifically, its application to prevent two-line passes – which was eliminated during the 2004-05 lockout. ”
“Bringing the red line back,” offered Crosby, who wasn’t sure he’d actually want to see it implemented. “Would just love to see how that would affect the game. You knew when it was there, there’s a ton of trapping and all that sort of thing, but it would just be a totally different game today. I think it would force you to have to make a few more passes. I just would love to see the combination of the way we play now combined with bringing the red line back, compared to what it would’ve looked like when it was first there.”
Crosby’s right to point out how much the game has changed since that rule modification. The same line of thinking might also apply to the dreaded trapezoid.
Tage Thompson of the Buffalo Sabres would like to take a page out of the WHL’s rulebook and allow goals to be kicked in.
“I’d love it if you could kick in a puck. I think that should be a goal. If you have the ability to redirect a pass with your skate or kick it in, I think that’s a skill. I think that’s not an easy thing to do. So, I think that should be a goal for sure. You can kick it anywhere on the ice, except for in the net. So I think it should be a goal. Especially the fact that a lot of times the [defense] ties you up in front of the net and the only thing you can use are your feet.”
It’s worked out west, with the only caveat that a goal is disallowed if the player kicks the puck in the crease. But, hey, Buffalo’s never had an issue with skates in the crease before, so why not try it in the NHL?
Both Vegas Golden Knights center Jack Eichel and Johnny Gaudreau of the Columbus Blue Jackets would love to eliminate the shootout in favor of extended overtime.
“Get rid of the shootouts,” suggested Gaudreau. “Just do three-on-three until someone scores.”
Eichel agreed, elaborating on the benefits of the change.
“It would make teams utilize more players and allow more guys the opportunity to play in overtime,” said Eichel. “I think it’s just such an exciting time for the fans. I know as a fan of hockey, when I see games going into overtime, I automatically tune into them because I want to watch the three-on-three. So I think it’d be great for the fans.”
Boston Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy would like the NHL to consider a change recently adopted by USA Hockey: no longer allowing shorthanded teams to ice the puck.
“I’ve seen USA Hockey actually fool around with this, and it’s that you can’t ice the puck anymore on the power play,” said McAvoy. “If you’re not able to ice the puck, then you’re forcing guys to try and make plays, try and lob it perfectly. I think it would make it really difficult.”
The idea is to open up the ice by forcing the defending team to skate it out. The reality has been an up-tick in faceoffs. Some teams would benefit more from those additional draws than others. Of course, there’s always the opportunity to tweak the faceoff rules.
John Tavares of the Toronto Maple Leafs wants to make a minor rule change in the faceoff circle. Previously, the NHL required the visiting team to put their stick down first on a faceoff. In 2015, the league changed it to be the defensive team, presumably giving an advantage to the attacking team on faceoffs. Tavares, though, doesn’t think that always works out in his favor.
“In the offensive zone [on faceoffs], the offensive player has the advantage and gets to go down second. I don’t always think it’s an advantage to go down second. I would like to think that the offensive player should be able to choose if you go down first or second. I know [from] going against Patrice Bergeron that he definitely wanted to be down first. So, it’s funny what you see as an advantage and what you think is an advantage, and the offensive player should get to choose.”
An interesting choice. For a guy who won 58% of his draws – seventh among players with at least 700 faceoffs last season – that may only make him more dangerous at the dot.
Head over to ESPN to check out the rest of the players’ comments, including their thoughts on teammates, opposing players, dining out, and more.