138485660The last time the NHL and the NHLPA strapped on their battle gear for a labor war, a slew of rules changes were instituted for the next season. And boy, losing that season sure was worth the shootout. (sigh)
We might not see the same revolutionary tweaks to the rule book in 2012-13, but given the ongoing concerns about player safety we're probably going to see something happen to address them.
One of the contentious issues: "Putting the red line back in," and disallowing two-line passes. Some, like Eric Lindros, would do just that to slow the game down.
Others, like Adrian Dater, believe it would slow the game down by reverting the NHL back to the trap years.
Pittsburgh Penguins coach Dan Bylsma has seen his share of injuries, and a number of them resulting from the speed of the current NHL product. Enough of them, in fact, that he's Team Lindros in this debate.
"The red line has increased the speed of the game," he said. "I think maybe slowing it down a little bit by putting the red line back in is something to think about. It's faster than it's ever been, and it's played faster than it's ever been. It's the execution of the puck more than it's that the skaters are faster. It's how you can execute with the puck with the red line taken out.
"I'm not saying we should hold and hook, but I think it's a slower game with the red line in. I think you'd still have exciting hockey [with the red line] if you continue to not allow holding, hooking, open-hand [grabbing], that type of thing."
Each coach in the NHL likely approaches this issue from his own philosophical and systematic point of view. The Penguins aren't exactly a firewagon hockey team. They're also a team that's seen the speed of the game cost them key players for long stretches.
But Bylsma's is a voice worth considering in these debates, as one of the game's better students.