The AHL Board of Governors meeting has always been an interesting spot for NHL rules-change trial balloons to float, and the minor league's just-concluded conclave offered two bits of news about overtime.
(Oh, and if it hasn't been formally stated here during a busy week for the blog: R.I.P. Iowa Chops, the greatest team ever to be named after meat with an unintentional reference to an anti-gay activist organization. The notion that a dozen women can tell their grandchildren they were Baby Backs is truly a point of pride.)
Last summer, the AHL began a controversial experiment on behalf of the NHL: one-minute penalties in overtime. It was something the NHL GMs kicked around in Winter 2008, with Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke saying the one-minute OT penalty "just makes so much sense."
The AHL spent the last year seeing if it did; at their BOG meeting, it was announced that "one-minute minor penalties during overtime, instituted at the request of NHL general managers in 2008-09, have been eliminated."
Cheers to that decision; jeers on what the AHL did with the shootout.
Jason Chaimovitch, Vice President of Communications for the AHL, said this afternoon that the OT penalties experiment was intended to last one season, but that he guesses the NHL isn't interested in this rule change by virtue of the fact that it's one-and-done.
Good riddance; while it would encourage referees to call more penalties in OT, the awkward consideration for penalties called with less than a minute to go in regulation renders this rule un-implementable.
The AHL also announced a tweak to its shootout format:
A change has been made to the shootout procedures so that no player may shoot twice until all eligible players have gone once. Previously, only five shooters per team were selected to participate in the entire shootout.
In other words, if there's a sixth round then shooters who already shot get back on the ice for another opportunity under the old rules.
As a fan who finds the shootout an unnecessary evil, I'm of two minds about this rule change.
First, the current NHL shootout format in which every player gets his shot offers a Royal Rumble-esque drama of the random (to the fans) draw as the shootout goes deeper.
Plus, there's always the unintentional hilarity of watching some hands-of-concrete defenseman attempt a circus move during Round 16 -- and in one obvious case, creating a hockey legend for the New York Rangers:
But here's the thing: The shootout exists to artificially end games for the purposes of television and regular season travel, and to provide made-for-TV highlights of offensively talented players displaying their skills without those loathsome constraints of defensemen on the ice or having to pass the puck to a teammate. (Occasionally, goalies get to make the highlight reels too for saves of circus goals.)
So why not just designate five outstanding players and cycle though them until there's a winner? For entertainment value, does a fan want to see Sidney Crosby(notes) twice or Tyler Kennedy(notes) once?
The altruistic format that gets all players involved is attempting to give a shameless exhibition some semblance of competitive fairness. Hell, there might even be more drama to see a player who failed in the first cycle seek redemption in the second five.
But the AHL has made its decision, keeping in lock-step with the NHL. Hopefully, the senior circuit reciprocates by adopting the five-shooter (rather than the current three) format; again, if the shootout is such a rousing success with the fans, give'em more to watch, right?