June 25, 2009
MONTREAL -- The NHL's competition committee met today and the biggest news was about staging: Both future outdoor games and fights off the faceoff.
First, on the Winter Classic/Outdoor Game front, the Canadian Press reported the potential for three different games played outdoors next season:
"We are looking at a couple potential additional special events beyond the NBC Winter Classic game," said NHLPA executive director Paul Kelly. "(It's something) that we all collectively think will be very good for the game. We think that they won't dilute the product that we've created."
There are a number of logistical issues still to be worked out. The Habs are hoping to host their game in November or December to coincide with the end of their centennial celebrations while the Boston Bruins will play theirs at Fenway Park in the traditional Winter Classic spot on New Year's Day.
Even though there has been some discussion that a game at Calgary's McMahon Stadium might be played as a New Year's doubleheader, there's also the possibility it will be held at another time - perhaps to coincide with CBC's annual Hockey Day in Canada.
Bob McKenzie of TSN reported that the McMahon Stadium game won't happen on New Year's Day, and that "sources say that event is possibly a game at Montreal's Olympic Stadium to celebrate the Canadiens' 100th anniversary." We had a report last September that the Montreal Canadiens would play a game in front of 70,000-plus at Stade Olympique on Dec. 4, 2009. Totally premature, but in the end perhaps that's what ends up happening.
Scott Burnside of ESPN has more, saying the committee didn't vote either way and that the second Classic game is "in limbo." Two outdoor games (potentially) on three different days ... still overkill?
The other big news from the competition committee was the rejection of the "staged fighting" misconduct penalty for players who drop the gloves after the faceoff. The NHLPA rejected it, and now the NHL competition committee has done the same. From the CP, from NHL VP Colin Campbell:
"It's dead as far as implementing it," said Campbell. "The managers may want to talk about it and discuss it again in September. If we do want to change it or implement a rule then we have to go back through the competition committee."
Blogger George James Malik sums up this decision, and inactivity on issues like head shots and goalie equipment, with this headline: "Competition committee does absolutely nothing to improve the game."