BETTER?! Why Make it BETTER?! That’s Insane…


HAHAHA he was behind a plant!!!  Do these guys EVER stop with the laughs?!?!  So the GM meetings came and went last week with very little news to come from it.  Oh, there was what Darren Dreger reported on Twitter which was that the GM’s were rattled that the weather was poor in Boca Raton.  I hope everyone was feeling for them in such trying times.


There was lots of talk about possible changes to a few things.  Of course, nothing really came out of it.  Right.  The way these guys see things, it ain’t broke so why fix it.  Fact is, it’s very broke.  But because they focus on how much money they’re making and not on how much money they’re missing out on, they won’t change much.  There are no pressure points to do so.  The only time this league has ever gotten serious about not just increasing scoring but making the game as exciting as they can was coming off the 2005 lockout when they were legitimately worried about how many fans they turned off during that year off.  With no pressure point, this league likely won’t ever get off it’s ass and make the changes they needed to make their game as exciting and entertaining as it can be.


People can say what they want about the NFL, but the NFL is far and away the most progressive of the four major North American sports leagues.  And what pressure point do they ever have to change things?!  The league brought in over 9 BILLION dollars last year, and yet they’re always looking to make changes to better their league.  The NHL?  Nope.  Status quo.  We’re good.  The dinosaurs are happy so everyone should be good.

I would really kick ass in those meetings.  And I’m far more of a traditionalist than most, but it’s clear to me that some major changes need to be made to the pro game to get it to the level which it should be at.  The problem I see with these meetings is that the NHL, when it comes to the on ice product, just has far too many dinosaurs (as I alluded to earlier) and/or guys with only their own interests in mind, trying to figure out how to make the league as a whole better.


Case in point, Lou Lamoriello wants to move to the points system back to 2 points for any kind of win, no loser point.  I know what you’re going to say, the Leafs are horrific in shootouts.  Yep, but I would consider that a fluke and/or an easy fix moving forward.  What isn’t an easy fix is how good a team is at 3 on 3, and the Leafs are really well built to play 3 on 3.  So he wants to reward teams for winning gimmicks, and punish teams who aren’t good at gimmicks.


The whole “loser point” is necessary because teams should be rewarded for getting the tie after 60 minutes of actual hockey.  They shouldn’t be punished for losing at a gimmick which is designed to eliminate ties and allow teams to make their flights that night.  That would be absolute horse shit if the league went that route.


The 3 point system makes MUCH more sense.  Rewards teams who go for the win in regulation (don’t kid yourself, most of this league look to just simply get games to OT), you still get something for getting it to OT, but you don’t fully reward teams who live off winning in 3 on 3 or a shootout.  Yes, the standings won’t look near as sexy as they have the last 10 seasons, but they’ll be a lot more honest so to speak.


But that likely wouldn’t have much of an impact on the game, so I’m going to look at what would.  Some of these are things that I fully believe they should do, and some are just idea’s that they could at least take a look at.  Don’t get livid with me, I’m just tossing suggestions in some cases.


Do away with ROW, just RW

This isn’t a big change, but it’s something I noticed yesterday and should have been fixed last year, if not in the 2015 offseason.  If the Flames lose to the Stars tonight, and then the Oilers happened to lose to Vancouver in regulation tomorrow night, the Oilers and Flames would be tied in the standings.  The Oilers would have one more win in regulation time than the Flames, and they swept the Flames in the season series.  Yet the Flames own the tiebreaker, because the NHL apparently hasn’t figured out that their three on three gimmick is worth much more than it should be.  You cannot seriously put the same value on a three on three win as a regulation win, yet the NHL…as only the NHL would do…does.  Fix it, because it’ll be well beyond ridiculous if that scenario plays out.


Ear pieces and microphones for each official

Another simple change that I could see being added if the officials prefer in the next few seasons.  I just think if you had all the officials on one frequency with the ability to talk to each other throughout the game that it could really help with what is being seen on the ice and help them be even more of a team out there.  Too many times over the years you’ll see situations like both referees with their hands up, and they’ll be calling different penalties on the same team, yet only one call is made.  No, this is horse shit for lack of a better term.  Call what you see, and I’ll hit on that a lot as this goes on.  But as is the case with so many of these I’ll start with, does the league or their officials even want to be better at their job?  Because I sincerely mean this, it sure doesn’t seem like it.


Eye in the sky official

You could go so many ways with this.  I think everyone would agree that having an official off ice, up top to help out the ones on the ice (again, ear pieces and microphones to communicate) would only be beneficial.  But what’s wrong with calling a penalty after the fact for example?  Let’s say a referee misses something, what’s wrong with having an eye in the sky tell the referee that he reviewed a situation and a penalty was missed?  You don’t have to interrupt the play, just simply have an official upstairs at all games, with video of the game (no play by play audio so you don’t have a play by play team influencing the call), and if he sees something he thinks was missed he can go back and look.


He would have until the drop of the puck after the next whistle to call a penalty.  No game delay to give him time to review something, but if something is missed in the moment you can give the eye in the sky the ability to call it after the fact (once the play is dead).  The eye in the sky could also have a quick look in slow motion at any puck over glass or high sticking penalties.  Added bonuses, if the eye in the sky were to see a player embellish a phantom high stick call the refs on the ice perhaps could change their call and get that player for delay of game or unsportsmanlike conduct which would then REALLY cut down on the diving.  Another is that it would at least in theory get rid of those horse shit make up calls that have been one of the most garbage yet accepted parts of hockey for as long as I or I’m sure anyone else can remember.


If the refs on the ice get the call wrong, it’s simply the same as the refs picking up a flag in a football game and you don’t call it.  And again, this isn’t for every single little thing, which is why no review time would be allowed, but it could really help.  Again though I’ll state, I’m not sure how much the league or the officials would want something like this because I’m not sure they want or care to be better at their gigs.


Recognize the stick as part of the player

The one thing that goes on in today’s game above all else that exposes how absolutely embarrassing and moronic the game is officiated today is when a players stick gets slashed.  It’s perfectly fine apparently, unless the players stick breaks, then it’s two minutes.  WHAT!!!!!?  How in the FUCK does this make any sense?!?!?!?  When I get really pissed off it is rare that a non curse word comes out of my mouth, and I’m having a lot of trouble not typing a bunch of them right now or any time I think about that.  I really want to punch somebody when I think about it.  Just fix this already.  Those hacks are out of desperation and really don’t do anything anyway, so call them.  I don’t care if it’s two for a slash or two for stupidity, just call the damn penalty.  A quick lift of the stick, no problem.  To me that’s a good defensive play that you can’t do without good positioning and effort.  However, lifting it and continuing to keep the player tied up, you could call that a hold.  Again, this is an easy fix, and more power plays means more chances.


Of course this could also fall under one umbrella which Gord Miller hit on last week:

PREACH GORDY!  Just simply call the damn game.  Tampa Bay leads the league in power plays per game with just under 3.5.  4 pp’s a game is low, and no team is even averaging that.  WHAT?!


Quit trying to keep things even, and officiate to the score like they so freaking blatantly did in Edmonton last night, like how they won’t call 5 on 3’s anymore.  The only time they’ll do it is if a team is trailing, or if they have to call one because of a puck over glass penalty or something along those lines.  Again, we seen it in Edmonton last night.  Chara with a trip on Draisaitl, couldn’t have been more obvious, but the Bruins were short handed already and the game was scoreless.  At 7-3 Edmonton though they had zero issue calling Russell for a trip to make it a 5 on 3.


There was another blatant example of this in the Pens and Jets game last week.  Jets were on the pp, Carl Hagelin clearly hooked someone (can’t recall who), and no call.  I couldn’t help but notice the Jets were up 3-2 at the time against the defending champs….Then, the Pens got a pp, and while the Pens were on their pp, someone got hooked, arm goes up, and the Pens get a 5 on 3, because they’re the defending champs and they’re trailing in the game.  Not coincidentally, that is where that game turned.  “We don’t want to decide the game”, yet you had no problem deciding the game there.  “We don’t want to decide the game” is code for “we have zero balls to do our job when the pressure is on”.


The officiating has gotten WAY out of hand.  Zdeno Chara stood out to me last night as he should have had three minors called against him by my count in the first period alone, but had none.  It’s not just “veteran calls”, it’s a strategy.  Teams will challenge the refs to call everything, because they know the refs won’t, which is really beneficial to a team like the Bruins who have such a strong penalty kill.  Again I go back to Tampa leading the league with only 3.5 PP’s a game.  They no longer officiate the game, they try to manage the game.  That’s not your job.  As Bill Belichick would say “just do your job”.


You FIX the review process, don’t get rid of it

Something isn’t working right in hockey “get rid of it!!!”.  Do you not remember that we put this in for a good reason?  I believe two things need to be done.


1) it’s a delay of game penalty if you lose a challenge.  In the days since the meetings, others have suggested this, but I have the text messages to prove I have been preaching this for a long time now just in case anyone believes I’m stealing ideas here!  This couldn’t be more obvious.  No coach has a fear of losing his time out.  It’s helpful to have, but it’s not a penalty of any kind to lose it and a review…even a short review…is longer than a time out.  So now you have coaches asking for reviews on just about anything just because worse case scenario they can settle things down if need be.  But if there is a risk of putting your team down a man, NOW it’s risky and you better be damn sure you can win the review.  You still keep the rule that you need to have your time out in order to ask for a review, and you lose it as well if you lose the review, but there has to be more of a penalty for this.


2) put a limit on the review.  This one they actually have proposed, and I’ve again been saying this forever so it’s nice to know they may at least do this.  One of two things here: either the refs get 60-90 seconds to look at the play, or else they get a max of three looks at it.  If it’s not an obvious call, then it’s inconclusive.  Some fans I’ve seen bitch about “so they aren’t supposed to get it right?!”  Look…moron…you put a limit on it so you aren’t going through it with a fine tooth comb literally digging for anything you can find to overturn the call.  Limit the looks because the spirit of the rule was to have the ability to get the obvious calls overturned, not the ticky tack ones.


3) no extra time for coaches to take a look.  This is garbage as well.  Refs will delay, and delay, and delay some more for coaches looking to see if they believe they should challenge a goal.  No.  If it’s obvious, they’ll see that it’s obvious.


This shit is real simple to fix, but if you ask me you have the wrong people in the room looking to change this, because they’re likely looking at it from their teams POV and worried about hurting themselves in certain situations.  Again, the spirit of this rule was so we could eliminate the blatant misses that happen from time to time, like the Matt Duchene goal in 2013.  It’s not to nail the guy who had his foot 3 mm off the ice as the team entered the zone which had absolutely zero impact on how the goal was scored.  So if they implement these three rules, it would likely clean up most of the problems with the process.


Making offensive zone pick plays legal

Now I’m going to get into the ones which are a little more controversial and in no way am I saying these should or shouldn’t happen, just tossing it out there.  If a teammate of a puck carrier in the offensive zone simply skated into the path of a defender chasing the puck carrier, otherwise known as a pick play, it would be two minutes for interference.  Why?  In the NBA this is perfectly legal, and I know this isn’t basketball, but if we are looking to create more offence then why not allow this?  In so many other area’s of the game we would call this “a good veteran move” which is code for “a player who plays dumb but knows exactly what he’s doing and the refs look the other way”.  I’m not saying that in the offensive zone we should allow the offensive players to maul the defensive players, but I believe pick plays, barring laying guys out while setting the pick, could be something they look at.  It would change the look of the game, but perhaps for the better.


Power Plays

This is the area I’ve given the most amount of thought to over the years.  Why are teams allowed to ice it killing off a penalty?  And the team killing the penalty can ice it legally, yet the team with the power play can’t?  What about offsides?  What if the team with the power play didn’t have to worry about offsides, or only an offside pass would be called but not if the puck is carried in with a teammate already in the zone?   Or perhaps make the redline the entry point to the zone instead of the blueline?  And why does the power play end after a goal?  There really are a lot of different things they could look at to make a man advantage a lot more of an advantage.  I’m not saying I would do any of these things, but I do believe they’re worth looking at.  You don’t want to go too far the other way though.  Top power plays being up near 25-28%, that would be great.  Power plays being up over 50%, that goes too far the other way and you don’t want to get it to a point where you discourage physicality and intensity on the ice.


Bigger nets

YEP!  Most of you won’t like this, but I’m 100% with Mike Babcock on this one.  And it’s simple for me.  The size of today’s nets are for goaltenders who were 5’9, 170 pounds.  Today’s tendy’s are AT LEAST 6’3, 220.  I know the concern from people is this would basically eliminate any chance of a goaltender 6’0 or under playing in the NHL again, but it’s heading that way regardless.  No goaltender while on his knees should be taking up the whole net, yet most of these guys do.  And even if they finally get the goaltending equipment under control, these guys are still taking up most of the net.


When most hear bigger nets, at least with the people I’ve talked to about this, they think noticeably bigger.  I’m not saying that.  What I would do is take the size of the average goaltender at a certain time (for example, the 1980’s), and the average size of the goaltenders today and adjust the nets accordingly.  All of a sudden, players can score from the outside, which then forces teams out of any kind of trap.  Because that’s the root of this scoring problem is that teams started forcing players to score from the outside and goaltenders got bigger and bigger, as did the equipment, and players no longer could score stepping over the blueline and ripping it.  And ask Wayne Gretzky, records are great for the game, offensive records in particular.  So many people are worried about what will happen to the records if you increase the size of the nets, yet nobody had a problem with goaltending records getting smashed as the Michelin men started ruling the crease.


You’ll hear dip shits who’ll tell you that “I’ve seen a lot of good 1-0 games”.  You do realize that you’re arguing for the exception rather than the rule don’t you?  Think about the future of the game too.  Popularity with kids is going to be much greater with a higher scoring game, because higher scoring games keep their attention more.  Hell, they keep my attention more!


I don’t want it to go too far where NHL games are ending in 18-14 scores, which is what would happen if every suggestion I just put down happened.  But the NHL should want to get to a 5-4 league rather than the 3-2 league it currently is.  Smaller goal equipment would help that if they ever get serious even about that, but we need more whether it be things that I proposed or other ideas.  They’ve talked about increasing scoring for 20 years now, and outside of one season it’s never happened.


It’s baffling that the league and the PA can’t figure out how much money they’re leaving on the table here.  More goals is more excitement, which is massive for getting kids into your game specifically.  Offensive records being set would also draw more casual fans in and give the league more media attention.  More goals also makes the game more bettor friendly, and don’t underestimate that.  One thing that hurts the NHL a lot is that it’s a difficult league to bet.  Every game is an over/under of either 5, 5.5, or 6 and the spread is always -1.5.  If you could have games where the spread is -2.5 or even 3.5 with an over/under of 7-10 the betting then becomes a lot more interesting.


But at the end of the day, all of this is likely a pipe dream.  Until the dinosaurs start to get out of the way and the league starts to look at a bigger picture, it’ll be all talk, little action.


Follow me on Twitter @TJ_Soups

6 thoughts on “BETTER?! Why Make it BETTER?! That’s Insane…

  1. The “missed tripping penalty” that occurred when Chara took Draisaitl’s feet out from under him was not called because about half a second previous to the trip, the Oilers had gone offside. The play was therefore already dead, so no penalty.

    1. You might wanna go back and watch that Randy. Play is going all the way through. Draisaitl gets tripped to lose the puck, nothing is called until McDavid then touches the loose puck. Even then though, a penalty is a penalty. Doesn’t matter if the play is live or dead.

  2. I agree with everything except the Bigger Nets and offensive pick plays. The unbalanced reffing drives me fricking insane. I even hear commentators saying “well they have to keep the penalties even”… NO THEY DON’T!

    1. And that’s fair, I know those are more “out there” suggestions. As you read, the officiating drives me to drink too haha! Hey thanks a million for reading and commenting man!

      1. It still disturbs me that really nothing has been done about Offside calls. Even just making the Blue Line a plane up to infinity and not worry about keeping a skate on the ice. seems pretty simple.

        Oh, i LOVE the idea of a 2 minute penalty on a botched Challenge. Also, i think the coach should have a button where he has 10 seconds after the puck enters the zone to Challenge for Offside – sucks when they get 2 minutes to decide.

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