Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Bettman’s mad science experiment is underway


“Hey guys, are they looking at widening the surface again? If so, where’s the other half of the rink?” Photo – Chris Johnston (Canadian Press)

Day one of the NHL’s Research, Development and Orientation camp on Wednesday certainly brought some interesting experiments that may, or may not be implied to improve the game.

The camp is being supervised by former NHL player and current league VP of hockey and business development, Brendan Shanahan. A great background into how the camp came to be comes from Yahoo!’s Nicholas J. Cotsonika.

A quick recap of the first days’s events and observations can be found from the Canadian Press (via the Globe and Mail).

As teams of prospects, from the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, worked through the drills using the new rule suggestions. The results were observed by NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and a host of league GMs. The Washington Capitals’ Bruce Boudreau was the only active NHL coach on hand.


Leafs GM and NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman observe the camp, discussing what potential rule changes will benefit the Toronto Maple Leafs – Toronto Star Photo

There are several things I agree on, notably the hybrid icing rule, albeit a tad confusing at times, as injuries are getting out of hand.

I wasn’t big on it at one time, but after last season’s post-season “too many men” drinking game, it may be needed as coaches and players can’t seem to communicate line changes as thoroughly in the louder NHL rinks. The blue areas are likely to be called the Don Cherry zones, after the strong proponent of the idea and goat of one of the most infamous too-many-men calls in hockey history.

The shallower goals (40” instead of 44”) wouldn’t make much of a difference to a goalie, and would speed up the pace with a bit more room behind the goal. I also like the larger creases,

I’m not sure what using a red mesh in the goalie net would accomplish, as it is being toyed with to make it easier for shooters to see the puck. NHL goalies would likely respond by wearing red pads, no matter what team they played on.

The 3-on-3 OT experiment seemed to impress many and would likely reduce shootouts. They also had the goalies change ends in the OT frame, something most GM's believe should happen.

The 2-on-2 overtime test seemed to be just a joke.

“We just had a 2-on-2 offside. Somebody get out the gong,” The Hockey News’ Adam Proteau noted on the magazine’s Twitter account. He later went on to tweet, “If the NHL ever adopts 2-on-2 OT, we all have to agree to band together & stage a coupe at league HQ.”

I am definitely not a fan of the the idea of just setting the puck on the faceoff dot and making the players wait for the whistle. It reminds me too much of some kind of dog-training exercise.

From a cosmetic point of view, I still have to figure out what the purpose of doubling the width of the blue line is. It makes no sense to me.

As for a single faceoff circle in one end, blah! I like the idea of finding a way for discouraging players to deliberately stop play in their own end, but that just doesn’t look right. Personally I think coaches it will take away from faceoff strategies, making the game more preictable and boring.

More on day one of the camp from Yahoo!’s Greg Wyshinski

Thursday’s agenda includes:

  • No touch icing, where the team that commits an offside infraction cannot make a line change and face-off is in offending team zone.
  • Face-off variation: After a face-off violation, opposition center may choose his face-off opponent.
  • Second referee located off the playing surface
  • Delayed penalty rule
  • No icing the puck while shorthanded

Ultimately the camp gives the NHL a chance to work through some ideas, as good or bad as they may be, and decide what is right for the future of the game. This blogger is  just hopeful that they just don’t get too overboard and literally change the face of the game.

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