The NHL Competition Committee met Tuesday, and agreed that the league needs to be needs more transparent. Since visors are transparent, the next logical step was clear: more visors.
Beginning in 2013-14, the National Hockey League intends to grandfather in mandatory visor usage among its players.
Just as the league did when they made the transition to mandatory helmets, the veterans will still have a choice over whether or not to sport the added protection. Players who have played more than 25 career NHL games -- i.e. non rookies -- will be able to go visorless until they retire (or they're hit in the eye with a puck. Whichever comes first). But the newest members of the NHLPA don't have a choice. Visor up, son.
Now, it's not official just yet. All of the changes proposed by the Committee have to be approved by the NHL's Board of Governors and the NHLPA Executive Committee. But at this point, that appears to be just a formality.
The NHLPA's preference to keep visor use an individual choice has been the obstacle for mandatory visors for awhile now. In 2009, only 30% of NHLers supported grandfathering them in. But there's been a paradigm shift since -- perhaps due to the recent injuries suffered by Manny Malhotra, Marc Staal, and the one narrowly avoided by a visor-sporting Nate Thompson. In 2013, only 30% of NHLers played without a visor, and the Competition Committee vote indicates that the players are much more comfortable with making the gradual shift.
But mandatory visors aren't the only thing we can expect to see in the NHL next year.
Before a high-sticking double minor is assessed, the officials will double-check that they're making the right call, according to Colin Campbell.
All 4-minute high sticking penalties will be reviewed, Colin Campbell said.
— Stephen Whyno (@SWhyno) June 4, 2013
In a bid for more offence, the area behind the goal will feature a lot less goal:
NHL is also going to make nets shallower to create more room behind them. — James Mirtle (@mirtle) June 4, 2013
The proposed shallower nets lose just four inches of depth and look like this, according to NHL Public Relations:
It's like a completely different game!
And hybrid icing is in the NHL's future, at least through the preseason.
Hybrid icing will be tried in NHL pre-season and could be used in regular season.
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) June 4, 2013
I like all these changes. Entire games change on high-sticking double minors, and there's nothing worse than watching your team kill off a four-minute penalty that replays have already shown was actually, say, teammate-on-teammate violence.
As for hybrid icing, I saw it a number of times last year in the AHL, and while I occasionally witnessed the officials blowing the play dead when I thought it shouldn't have been, I never witnessed a player shattering his femur on a botched race for the puck. So I'm in favour of this change.
All in all, colour me impressed. The last time the players and the owners sent a bunch of representatives to work out a complicated issue, we lost hockey for four months. This time, the results seem to be a lot more positive.