March 16, 2011
After three days of meetings and golf in Boca Raton, Fla., the NHL GMs meetings wrapped up this morning hitting on topics that weren't related to player safety.
As with any meeting involving the GMs, governors, etc., having each team represented discussing the game and what changes, if any, can be made in the future is never a bad thing. Between the GMs meeting and Brendan Shanahan's(notes) Research Development and Orientation camp over the summer, there's a willingness among the decision-makers in the NHL to continue to evaluate the game and try and make it better.
Here's what the GMs focused on today:
Expanding video review
Currently, under Rule 38, officials can only call for a video review for disputed goal calls. The GMs discussed adding the four-minute high-sticking double minor under the umbrella of video review.
We've seen many instances where the stick of a player or their teammate own stick hits them up high and the defending player is mistakenly sent to the box. Should that mistaken high-stick draw blood, that's four minutes a team will wrongfully have to try and kill off and attempt to prevent two goals from being scored.
But as NHL VP of Hockey Ops Colin Campbell told the Canadian Press, any other expansion to video review would be tough, at the moment at least, because of the number of cameras and angles are different from arena to arena. Unless there's a uniform standard in all 30 arenas, the words "inconclusive evidence" won't be just heard after no-goal calls.
Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke talked about being cautious in regards to more review and he's right. The flow of the game cannot be bogged down by officials reviewing a potential missed icing or off-sides calls or too-many men on the ice penalty. There's at least two TV timeouts in a period that do enough slowing down of the flow of play to begin with. It's understood in sports that the presence of officials provides a human element to the game and missed calls will happen. While video review would get majority of calls correct, it would bring a negative effect on game flow as well as the length of game times.
Spinorama's and the shootout
Did the puck come to a stop? Was it not moving in a forward direction? Should it really be a legal move? These are questions that have been asked for every Jason Blake(notes), Martin St. Louis(notes) or any other NHL player who performs the move in the shootout.
According to NHL VP of Hockey Ops Colin Campbell, if the puck stops, the play is dead.
"The hard part is interpreting the puck stopping and it will be interpreted by video review," Campbell said. "When we first introduced shootouts the challenge was they were new and we had a number of questions to answer. This is one of the last lingering questions, what's acceptable and what is not."
Our response has always been that if the shootout is for entertainment, why not let the spinorama continue to be legal, no matter what direction the puck is going or if it comes to a stop? If the shootout is to stay long-term in the NHL, why wouldn't we want the players to get creative as possible in their attempts, even if the original rules of the sideshow are broken?
It's a one-on-one battle with the net being protected by goalies getting larger and larger (even if pad sizes are being capped these days); why not give the shooter the option to try and score any way they can? The trapezoid and the playing around with pad sizes has already given the shooters an advantage over goaltenders, why not continue that trend over to the shootout?
The CHL Top Prospects Game, using shallower nets and the coach's challenge -- brought up at last November's GMs meetings --- was also discussed.
The GMs will re-convene in June during the Stanley Cup final where these topics and others will be re-examined along with whatever hot-button issue of the moment is three months from now. Recommendations from these meetings will be sent to the Competition Committee before arriving on the desks of the Board of Governors in June.