In 13 years as Editor-in-Chief of The Hockey News, I’ve made a ton of suggestions on how to improve the game. You’d almost think I didn’t like it.
The truth is, I feel it’s part of my job to help stimulate conversation and debate. While hockey is still pretty darned fantastic, nothing is perfect.
What follows is a list of various things I’ve suggested, conceived, advocated or supported during my baker’s dozen years in my ivory tower.
We asked four THN staffers what rule change they’d like to see made in the NHL. Here’s what they came back with:
A couple decades ago, the notion of bigger nets was considered virtual treason. Today, it’s more akin to a parking fine. This idea to help inject more offense isn’t universally loved, but enough minds have been opened that it’s at least not a criminal offense to air it. Which stands to reason.
Everything in the game has changed since the NHL was born a century ago, either via mandate or organically. Sticks are curved and no longer wooden. Goalies wear masks and are allowed to fall to the ice. And they’re mammoth, thanks to genetics and gear. Pick a facet of the game and it’s been altered – except for the 4 x 6 nets. Our shinny forefathers either got it perfect the first time or it’s time to consider expansion of another kind. If Vegas can get a team, why not bigger nets? – JASON KAY, EDITOR IN CHIEF
Is there a fan out there who likes it when a linesman stands up from his faceoff squat to signifying one of the centers is being thrown out of the circle? Here’s a new rule guaranteed to fix that time hog. Give each team one warning (or one center tossed from the faceoff dot) per period. From that point on, have the linesman throw the puck in the direction of the non-offending team. Immediately, you’ll see centers around the league line up straight and battle for the puck drop fairly. Read more
Since Todd Ewen’s heartbreaking passing on Sept. 19, former players, teammates and friends have been posting their memories of the late NHL tough guy. And Wednesday night, former NHL referee Kerry Fraser joined by sharing his own, unique memory.
Fraser, who refereed in the NHL from 1973 to 2010, took to Twitter to post a photo of a gift Ewen had made for him. Ewen’s creation, a pair of hockey pants made entirely out of hockey tape, was put together while he watched from the sidelines as a healthy scratch in the post-season. He then gifted the pants to Fraser. Read more
Ten years ago, instead of being unveiled at a full arena, the best prospect in a generation was introduced to the hockey world in the ballroom of an Ottawa hotel. The 2005 lockout had just ended and the Corel Center (now the Canadian Tire Centre) couldn’t accommodate the new day for the NHL draft.
But that didn’t blunt the excitement and anticipation of the New NHL, one that featured a ready-made superstar in Sidney Crosby, a salary cap to get the NHL’s economics in order and a host of rule changes and enforcements to allow its offensive stars to shine. As Mario Lemieux posed for pictures with Crosby, the Penguins’ No. 1 pick, you could just envision him using the removed red line to spring Crosby for breakaway after breakaway.
For a while, the plan worked masterfully. After taking a year off, the NHL roared back in popularity. Ratings were up, attendance was up and the excitement was palpable. Read more
Well, that post-season was underwhelming. Come to think of it, so was the regular season. At 5.03 and 5.32 goals per game, respectively, the two parts of 2014-15 combined to create another low-scoring season for goal-starved fans.
Immediately after that dud of a Stanley Cup final, in which just 23 goals (3.83 per game) were scored, suggestions started flying on ways to fix the dearth of goals and the downtick in excitement. TSN’s Dave Naylor threw his support behind making the nets bigger, a move the NHL should embrace.
Failing that, however, perhaps there’s another way to boost scoring.
Prior to the playoffs, this editor floated an idea by Kris King, vice-president of hockey operations, and Stephen Walkom, senior vice-president and director of officiating, at the NHL. Neither offered any feedback, but at least they were willing to hear it out.
“We have a lot of ‘interesting’ GMs,” King said. “So your idea might not be as crazy as you think.”
That crazy idea targets the suffocating defensive strategies of coaches – the real culprits behind low-scoring games – by making this rule change:
Barring any unforeseen developments, the limited-in-scope coach’s challenge rumored for years to be coming to the NHL will be implemented in the 2015-16 season, thanks in part to a recommendation from the league and NHL Players’ Association’s joint competition committee Thursday.
The competition committee – comprised of four NHL GMs, one owner and four players – recommended league coaches be permitted to challenge goals that involve goaltender interference and offside plays with a video review. Goalie interference challenges would be considered by on-ice officials, while offside challenges would be addressed by the NHL’s video review center in Toronto. And if a coach has already used his timeout, he is unable to challenge any play. Read more
After Quebec Remparts coach-GM Philippe Boucher accused Quebec Major Junior League director of officiating Richard Trottier and referee Olivier Gouin of conspiring against his team during Memorial Cup round-robin play earlier this week, many expected Canadian Hockey League brass would come down hard on the former NHL player-turned-bench boss. And many turned out to be right: late Thursday, the league announced it was fining Boucher $10,000 for his outburst. Read more
Meg Hishmeh and her son, Blake, will spend Mother’s Day doing exactly what they’ve done for the better part of the past month. Blake will do four hours of therapy at a rehabilitation hospital in Denver, then they’ll watch the hockey games together.
Don’t worry, the story will have a happy ending when 18-year-old Blake is discharged May 20 and returns to finish up his high school year in New Jersey. And with him will be Meg, who took a break from her job as World’s Busiest Hockey Mom™ to help usher her son back to what it is expected to be a full recovery from a traumatic brain injury after a back flip off a jump at the Breckenridge Ski Resort in Colorado went horribly awry during spring break. Blake was airlifted from the ski hill and spent eight days in intensive care before being transferred to the rehab hospital on April 14. Read more