I’ve got a confession. I actually like the NHL brand of hockey pretty much the way it is. No foolin’.
This epiphany came to me as I started to inventory the various changes I’ve advocated during my nearly eight years as editor-in-chief of The Hockey News.
At times, and with differing degrees of vigor, I’ve either suggested or supported alterations in the name of improving hockey. Some of the notions cut to core issues and reflect things of which I’m extremely passionate (or was at the time).
Others have been tweaks or fine-tunes; and some have been floated primarily to foster debate. Heck, I’ve even changed my mind on some. Think about it, I couldn’t possibly feel truly, madly, deeply about every position I take or I’d be more exhausted than Alex Ovechkin at the end of a two-minute shift.
Bottom line: the game is great, but we should always be thinking about ways to make it better. Here are 40 of the ways I saw, at least at one point in my tenure – and in no particular order – of making that happen.
1. Shorten the season. Seventy games would do nicely.
2. Home teams in white. Provides more visual variety for season-ticket holders.
3. More 4-on-4. Maybe the last five minutes of regulation?
4. Divisional playoff format to intensify rivalries. Bring back the Battle of Alberta!
5. Names on referees’ sweaters. I don’t want to work too hard when it comes time to bash them.
6. More teams in playoffs. Two-thirds feels right.
7. Stricter punishment for fighting. Not to eliminate it altogether, more to dissuade goonery.
8. More teams in Canada. The Great White North drives the revenue train. It only makes sense.
9. Bigger nets. With bigger players, bigger gear and better technique, the scoring area has drastically reduced over the years.
10. Improve odds in draft lottery. To discourage tanking.
11. Change the penalty for puck-over-the-glass. It’s akin to icing the puck, so why is the punishment so punitive?
12. Weekend trade deadline. To give more viewers the chance to watch the drama unfold.
13. Change the All-Star Game format and/or voting procedure. Too many ideas to list.
14. Institute a head shot rule. Concussion reduction is paramount.
15. One international tournament every four years. We need a World Cup, like soccer.
16. One-minute penalties in regulation time for select transgressions. Not all minor infractions are created equal.
17. Win the right for first overall pick. Have a tournament for the non-playoff teams.
18. Make no trade clauses tougher to get in the next CBA. Only long-time vets should be eligible.
19. Stiffer drug testing. Lots to gain, little to lose.
20. New name for Lady Byng Trophy. It’s a worthy award, but the handle is not real manly.
21. Obstruction crackdown. Period.
22. Five shooters in shootout. It’s over so fast with three.
23. Mandatory visors. Everyone has a stake in this fight.
24. Women in the Hall. It’s the right thing to do.
25. Increased consequences for penalties called in final two minutes of a game. How is a minor worth two minutes if it’s called with eight seconds remaining?
26. Prohibit hand passes in the defensive zone. Why are they allowed there and nowhere else?
27. No-touch icing. Safety supersedes excitement.
28. Allow two-line passes. Open up the game.
29. Smaller goalie gear. Provided the stoppers remain protected.
30. Keep 4-on-4 status quo. I know, this contradicts No. 3.
31. Increase draft age to 20. Players still have miles to develop at 18.
32. Introduce a defensive-defenseman award. Why not?
33. Wider bluelines. I liked Bobby Smith’s concept.
34. Referee abuse crackdown. No one likes a whiner.
35. Change game-winning goals criteria. Give it to the player who puts his team up for good, not the guy who scores the fourth goal in an 8-3 drubbing.
36. Don’t limit assists per goal to two, but eliminate phantom assists. Only count ones that really set up a goal.
37. Modify hard-capped shoulder/elbow pads. See No. 14.
38. Eliminate a plus or minus when goalie is pulled. I said some were small tweaks.
39. Calculate power play efficiency on actual time with the man advantage, not number of chances. See No. 38.
40. Eliminate singing of anthems before games. Keep it after games at the Olympics, though.
Jason Kay is the editor in chief of The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears regularly in the off-season.
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