If Scoring Goes Up, Interest Goes Up, Business Goes Up, Everyone Wins
So the other day I went off about the refs not just in the NHL, but the whole culture/mentality that goes with officiating in hockey. It was GLORIOUS! I should have wrote that one a long time ago. The NHL specifically needs to get this cleaned up ASAP. One of the benefits to this would be that it would help increase scoring. But obviously other things are being discussed to increase scoring this week as well and I figured I may as well chime in on that as well because I know you can’t get enough of me.
So the goaltending equipment is obviously the big one. I loved the segment Corey Hirsch did on it a few weeks back. And I’m liking what I’m hearing from Kay Whitmore about this. But….I’ll believe it when I see it. First comment that I personally heard from a goaltender about this was Ryan Miller. Talk about a guy who is worried. He stuttered through the entire clip I seen and came up with really lame reasons as to why they shouldn’t rush to do this. Some of it was logical, but it was pretty obvious he’s worried.
My worry is that you’ll get more goaltenders like Miller going to Don Fehr, and you know Fehr loves to fight with the league over anything he can. The players outnumber the goalies, so I would HOPE that common sense takes over here and the PA realizes more goals and more action is what’s best for the sport. Even if we get smaller equipment though, I’m fully expecting about a 5% decrease, not 20% like Hirsch suggested, which isn’t enough.
While they’re at it, could they PLEASE ban all white equipment? I’ve hit on this a ton before, but I will again. These guys are wearing all white to make themselves look bigger and if it didn’t have an affect, they wouldn’t do it. We are seeing this season more goaltenders move away from it. Corey Crawford, Scott Darling, Brian Elliott, Eddie Lack and most recently Jimmy Howard are wearing dark or gear and that’s how it should be. I have suggested in the past that a 3 inch border before any white can be applied on the pads, glove and blocker, and 80% of the pads, glove and blocker have to be a dark or bright colour. So for example, an Oilers goaltender could have primarily blue or orange gear, but not white. A Flames goaltender could have black, red or even gold gear, but not white. Will it have a BIG impact? Probably not. But it is another little edge that is easy to take away from the goaltenders.
I like what Mike Babcock said when asked about it. When asked if it would help much Babcock said (paraphrasing because I can’t find the exact quote) “Nope. The guys in net are still too big for the nets they’re guarding.” And he’s right.
These nets were made for guys who are 5’8, 170. Today, the smallest starter in the league is Jaroslav Halak who is 5’11, 180. He and Jonas Enroth I BELIEVE are the only tendy’s in the league under 6’0. Last year there were 4, but Dustin Tokarski and Anton Khudobin are both out of the NHL (both with Anaheim ironically).
Spare me your “messing with tradition” story. Goaltenders have been “messing with tradition” for 15 seasons now by wearing the gear they wear. Guys will be scoring on a bigger net than Gretzky did? Right, and they’ll be scoring on goaltenders nearly twice as big and about five times quicker than Gretzky did.
I’m not advocating for nets to increase in size just yet. Let’s shrink the equipment, let’s clean up the officiating to free up more skilled players, let’s try to come up with other changes that can be made first (maybe adjusting the PP rules). But I’m definitely not against increasing the size of the nets. Should it come to that, I would take the average size of a goaltender in 1985 or around that time, and increase the nets by the same percentage that the average size of a goaltender has increased to today.
As for those who say you then have to increase it at all levels and it’ll start to get expensive…why? That has to be the dumbest argument against it I’ve heard. You do it in the AHL, ECHL, and MAYBE you do it at the CHL and NCAA levels. But you don’t HAVE to do it for the CHL or NCAA, and you don’t have to at all levels. Different leagues have different sized ice, so they can also have different sized nets. Should we increase the size of players, or speed, or shot power in lower levels of hockey so they are equivilant to the NHL too? Things get tougher in pro hockey, so the nets can be that way too. I don’t hear anyone bitching about there being different dimensions in baseball stadiums, so why are we so concerned with increasing the size of the nets? Nobody is wanting them to be soccer size, just enough of an increase so that today’s goaltenders are as proportionate to them as they were 25-30 years ago. And yes, I’m fully aware most of you disagree with this opinion.
So one more thing to hit on and that had been discussed at the GM meetings was the coach’s challenge. A lot of people have a problem with it, yet the NHL isn’t changing it. I have a solution.
The big problem those people have is with the chintzy ones that take forever. The spirit of the rule was put in so that the obvious ones could get overturned. Wednesday night in Edmonton there was an obvious one that took no time at all.
So what’s the solution to this? Put a clock on it. Refs have 1:00, or maybe 1:30 to look at it. If they can’t establish that it’s offside or goaltender interference by then, times up. It’s inconclusive, call on the ice stands. Pretty simple. And you only put the clock on coach’s challenges, that way normal replay can take the time to determine whether a puck was high sticked or kicked in.
It blows my mind that I can figure that out by giving it 5 minutes of thought, yet you watch, it’ll be 5 years of 10 minute reviews over whether or not a guys foot was on the ice or not on an offside call before the league finally comes to this realization.
I just don’t get why it isn’t important for this league to be constantly looking to improve their product. Things have to get awful before they’ll do anything. I’m sure I’ll be writing this piece for the remaining Bettman years, but I pray I don’t.
Clean it up fella’s! Players putting wigs and capes on during the All-Star game won’t increase your fan base, a better on ice product will.
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