Saturday, May 17, 2008

Improving the Game of Hockey

My Take
1. Bigger Nets

Goalie Equipment Before

Goalie Equipment After

As of right now the current net is at six feet wide to four feet high. I'd add an inch to the height of the net and add two inches to the width of the net. Goalies/equipment has gotten much bigger over the years Goalies have become more flexible over the years. Some goalies (especially Europeans) can stretch so far that they can reach both goal posts with ease. Goalies have improved so much that I think a small increase in the net size is needed. When the first nets were established goalies were almost like stick figures. They wore little goalie equipment and the goalies themselves were smaller. This made the net look much bigger to players and there were many openings for the puck to get through. Now the Goalies look like sumo wrestlers and the puck has less of chance of getting into the goal due to the many factors already explained in this post.

EM Swift, had a great column about this very issue. He wrote the following,

"It's not just that scoring is down. The league is averaging 5.8 goals per game, including overtime, this season. That's down from 6.1 last season and way below the seven-plus average from the late 1970s through the early '90s -- before teams even played overtime.

The bigger concern is that certain types of scoring attempts have all but disappeared. The booming slapshots from a wing breaking across the blue line, which popularized hockey and made Bobby Hull a matinee idol in the 1960s; the sniper blast from the sideboards of the kind that made Guy Lafleur, Mike Bossy and Mike Gartner so deadly."When I was growing up, I saw a lot of goals scored by guys going down the wing, slap shots to the far corner," says Calgary's Jarome Iginla, a member of the NHL's competition committee. "Those were exciting to see. The bigger nets would give you more chance to have those goals." (Swift)

To Read the Rest of the Article:

“Goalies have to get smaller or the nets have to get larger,” Darcy Regier (Sabres GM) said.

The NHL needs to increase the size of the NHL net in order to produce more scoring.
2. Remove the Instigator Penalty

Rule #56

An instigator of an altercation shall be a player who by his actions or demeanor demonstrates any/some of the following criteria: distance traveled; gloves off first; first punch thrown; menacing attitude or posture; verbal instigation or threats; conduct in retaliation to a prior game (or season) incident; obvious retribution for a previous incident in the game or season.

The aggressor in an altercation shall be the player who continues to throw punches in an attempt to inflict punishment on his opponent who is in a defenseless position or who is an unwilling combatant. A player must be deemed the aggressor when he continues throwing and landing punches in a further attempt to inflict punishment and/or injury on his opponent who is no longer in a position to defend himself.

An altercation is a situation involving two players, with at least one to be penalized.

It's pretty self explanitory and teams are already wanting this to happen according to Eric Lindros.


Eric Lindros, newly appointed NHLPA ombudsman, said the NHLPA has visited four teams so far in their fall tour. Addressing a question about concussions and what can be done about them from Ron McLean on Hockey Night in Canada: Hockey Tonight, Lindros mentioned equipment and respect. Lindros said all four teams mentioned getting rid of the instigator rule as a way to increase respect for other players on the ice.

Link to Article:

3. Penalty to players who dive to block shots or passes, or to knock the puck off a stick.

By someone, Article is MIA (Missing in Action):

“If I’m standing up, I can’t trip you,” Regier said. “But we have rules in which if you’re skating down the ice and I make a desperate dive and I knock the puck away from your stick first and I happen to trip you in the process, that’s not a penalty. I don’t know how that came about. It doesn’t make any sense to me. If I trip you, I trip you, whether I’m laying on the ice or standing up.

“It’s so easy to go down and slide [to block a shot or pass], and the skill that you have to have developed to overcome nothing more than a slide is enormous. You have to have great hands, great puck control, great passing skills to put the puck over the top of that defender.

I call this a penalty......

4. Change Delay of Game penalties from a 2 minute minor to a 1 minute minor.

A two minute penalty for shooting the puck over the glass in your defensive zone is kind of lame. A two minute penalty isn't deserved for a player who unintentionally commited a crime by shooting the puck over the glass. I'd Change it to a 1 minute penalty because it isn't worthy of 2 minutes but isn't worthy of no call either so the best thing to do would make "Delay of Game" is a one minute minor penalty.

5. Let Skaters in Shootout to go without their helmet

Self explanatory. I think it's kind of cool but the change wouldn't improve the sport.

By Tim Cowlishaw, Dallas Morning News

In the Sixties and Seventies, we could easily identify Bobby Hull, Jean Beliveau, the flowing locks of Guy LaFleur. Then safety reared its ugly head, and now we have no idea what these players look like. Most of the regular-season highlights we see of the NHL are from shootouts. Let's see the players. Women will like this one.

Link: Not Available

6. Bring Back an Improved FoxTrax

Not this (Old FoxTrax System).....

From Wikipedia,

FoxTrax (colloquially called the glow puck, smart puck, laser puck, Fox Puck, or super puck) was a specialized ice hockey puck with internal electronics that allowed its position to be tracked designed for NHL telecasts on the Fox television network. Primarily, it was used to visually highlight the puck on-screen and display a trail when the puck was moving rapidly.

But Something Like This.....

As of right now Versus is exploring ways to improve the FoxTrax system. I propose that they do something like shown in the above video. In NHL video games the puck has something like a spot shadow under the puck. This shadow makes the puck appear to be larger making it easier to follow. If VS. able to create something to this effect it will bring in many new fans who had problems following the puck.

Tim Cowlishaw's View on Improving the NHL
1: Put microphones on all coaches and captains for all games. One of the things that the millions of fans that flock to NASCAR races each year really enjoy is the ability to hear every word exchanged between Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his crew chief, Tony Eury Jr.
The scanner technology is there to let every fan in the seats eavesdrop on what's being said. We don't want lame interviews conducted by bench reporters. We want to hear the real thing, and if we're paying $100 a ticket, we deserve it.
My View: It is absolutely pointless. The microphone is annoying for the players to wear. Sidney Crosby has taken his mike off in the middle of the game because it was nuisance. It wouldn't improve my experience at the game.
2: Start the season a month later. The Stanley Cup Finals should be starting when the NBA Finals are ending. For two weeks, you get the closest thing you're ever going to get to undivided attention.
The technology is good enough to make ice playable in late June. Starting the season a month before the NBA in the heart of college and pro football season does nothing for the NHL.
My View: We're in agreement.
3: Convince the selfish Eastern Conference general managers to act in the best interests of the game and change the schedule. This was voted on and rejected a few months ago. But Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby, moving into the prime of what's going to be a fantastic career, needs to play a game in Dallas and Los Angeles and Chicago every year. Not once every three years.
My View: It would matter how the schedule is formatted. More games versus the Western Confernce would help the NHL but playing every team in the Western Conference is way too much.
4: Kiss up to ESPN. Make amends. There's still enough room for programming at the world-wide leader to get your games back there. Versus gives the NHL no presence at all. The studio show has Bill Clement, a great analyst, in the misguided role of host.
Get back to ESPN – even if it's ESPN2 – and get your highlights back on SportsCenter.
My View: Have the NHL on VS. and ESPN. I'd like to see it on both networks.
5: Let the skaters in shootouts go without their helmets. In the Sixties and Seventies, we could easily identify Bobby Hull, Jean Beliveau, the flowing locks of Guy LaFleur.
Then safety reared its ugly head, and now we have no idea what these players look like. Most of the regular-season highlights we see of the NHL are from shootouts. Let's see the players. Women will like this one.
My View: I already mentioned it and I like it.
6: Eliminate the ability to ice the puck during penalty killing. You can't do it 5-on-5 but you can
do it when you're being penalized? Montreal GM Bob Gainey never really thought that made sense and he's right.
If they ice it, bring back the puck back for the face-off and the penalty killers have to stay on the ice.
What that would do is increase scoring from the game's best players, make power plays more powerful and cut down on penalties which would increase the flow of the game. All of those are good things.
My View: Not sure, I'd have to see the rule implemented in a game inorder to have an opinion.
7: Adopt the 2-3-2 travel format for all series. Commissioner David Stern did it for the NBA Finals after the 1984 season to ease the travel for newspapers. Those Boston-to-Los Angeles-to-Boston-to Los Angeles-to Boston trips were hard on the budget, not to mention hangovers.
Do it for all series. Increase (even by a fraction) news media coverage of the playoffs. It can't hurt.
My View: Hate it. The current system gives the higher seeds a better chance to win the series making the regular season more important.
8: Adopt the shootout after 40 minutes of playoff overtime hockey. Once you get past that point, the hockey gets ugly. Fans need to know that if they stick around until a little after midnight, they are going to see a winner. Networks need to know that, too. They aren't making any money with those long ad-less overtimes.
I would keep unlimited overtime for any game that could decide the Cup Finals.
My View: Agree, OT becomes way too long and boring when no one scores.
9: Move the U.S. league office to Atlanta. Being in New York, the NHL can at least pretend it's a big deal. Bettman and other league officials need to walk the streets of Atlanta or, I don't care, Raleigh or Nashville and learn that nobody knows who they are. It will help them figure out what they have done to the game.
My View: ROFL, this is stupid.
10: Contract to 26 teams. Arrive at a formula based on revenue, attendance, won-lost record and local ratings. The two worst performing teams are dropped and their players are dispersed after next season. Two more go a year later.
Now you have fewer and better teams and you get to see the stars more often and you increase your chances of making the playoffs. Those are good things.
Someone should let Bettman know how his grand plan of "expanding the league's footprint" has really gone.
My View: It will never happen so why talk about it.


Britishpensfan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Britishpensfan said...

Very good article it is a good read. I will however disagree with two points 1 and 3. First i don't think goals should be bigger, i love watching goalie battles and i think if we want to increase goals it will kill some of the games appeal. Will lose more fans than we gain. A skilled player should be able to score not the Goalies fault he does his job. If there is to be a goal change in size i would only do it one way not both. On to point 3, That would be a silly penalt to have, all the fun of Hockey is watching people block shots. As for diving to knock a puck of the stick, if u get it first it is ok if u get the man first yes a penalty. That Gonchar play was probaly the best Defensive play i have seen for years if not ever he timed it perfect. Doing that and blocking shots is a art.
Great article though.

Alina said...

Very Good Article!!!
i like watching goalie battles...

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