Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Commissioner For A Day: NHL

Let's get back into this vibe.

The NHL doesn't have as many dumb rules as college hockey, but there are some things we can change to improve the sport. As always, I want your thoughts via Twitter or the comments, but here are mine.

Bye bye, puck over glass rule

It has run its course.

This was a well-intentioned if unfortunate change coming out of the 2004-05 lockout. Basically, officials refused to call penalties when the puck was clearly sent out of play on purpose. So the NHL took away the discretion.

But enough is enough. Players are NOT doing it on purpose anymore. And when officials aren't calling the most blatantly obvious fouls late in regulation or in overtime, but won't hesitate to call a penalty for the puck going out of play, it just looks silly.

"Want to slash a guy in the chops? GREAT! Just be careful to keep the puck in play!"

It's no secret I want this rule to die. It's not because I want players to feel free to throw the puck out of play with no repercussions. Instead, it's because I see this play as no different than icing. Yeah, sometimes a player takes an icing to get a whistle. When that happens, you don't see an uproar for said player to be penalized for delay of game, do you? It's the same thing. You're doing something to stop the game. Quite often, it's done on purpose. Why is it handled differently?

In college hockey, icing and pucks out of play from the defensive zone are handled identically. Faceoff in the defensive zone, and that team can't change personnel.

Do that in the NHL, and see what happens. No one is marrying the league to this rule, and it isn't going to hurt to try.

Hybrid icing/mandatory visors

There isn't much reason to list this, now that the rules are coming. But I talked about the visor bit in 2006, and it took this long to make the change. Yikes.

The hybrid icing change should have come before Kurtis Foster got hurt, but it's insulting that it took this long after Foster's catastrophic injury. College hockey has used this rule for a while, and it works much better than I ever thought it would going in.

(In fact, when it was first talked about, I was on record as practically hating the idea. I was totally wrong, and NCAA referees and linesmen should be saluted for the job they've done enforcing it.)

I wish visors were the law for all players, but the compromise is understandable. Many veteran players are already smart enough to use them, and hopefully more follow suit.

Stop suspending to the injury

Part of the maddening inconsistency with the NHL's Department of Player Safety comes from its insistence on over-evaluating injuries before suspending players for illegal hits.

If a hit is 1) clearly illegal, 2) particularly dangerous, or 3) it's either clearly intentional or exceptionally reckless, it shouldn't matter if the "victim" is injured.

An illegal hit is an illegal hit, whether the offending player gets lucky and doesn't injure someone or not. And illegal/dangerous/reckless hits need to be consistently punished if there is to ever be any hope of eliminating them from the game.

Consistent enforcement of the guidelines set forth by DPS should lead to an increased respect for the sport among its participants. Then we can hope that trickles down to the lower levels where checking is still permitted.

And if it doesn't work, well, hell, at least we tried.

No more three-point games, at least not this way

A win is two points, whether in regulation, overtime, or a shootout. A loss that happens after regulation is a point. So if a game goes overtime, it's worth three points. Otherwise, it's worth two.

I don't have to tell you how dumb that is.

The answer is right under the NHL's nose, and if it wasn't the NHL we were talking about, it'd be shocking that the NHL hadn't changed this system.

Here is how you do it:

Regulation win: Three points
Overtime/shootout win: Two points
Overtime/shootout loss: One point

Every game is worth the same number of points. Regulation wins can still be a primary playoff tiebreaker, but using that doesn't excuse having games worth two different point totals depending on where they finish.

No comments: