BOCA RATON, Fla. – The long-term future of the NHL was the focus on the first day of the league’s annual meetings of general managers Monday.
The 31 GMs in attendance broke up into four smaller groups to cover several different ideas. None of these were seen as potentially being implemented in the near-term, but were more part of a broad session of brainstorming on where the game could go in the distant future.
“There’s always little things that change,” Toronto Maple Leafs GM Lou Lamoriello said. “Certain people have certain opinions. That doesn’t say they’re right, but you express them and then you just go from there.”
Though many general managers were mum on specifics of what was discussed, Calgary Flames GM Brad Treliving explained one of the more interesting ideas that was brought up in his session, which involved the location of the faceoff circle in the defensive/offensive zone.
“The thing that got me thinking most was the faceoff circles. Instead of having two faceoff (circles), if you look in the offensive zone, two in the corner. One of our comments is a lot of times the puck’s won and now it’s all of a sudden it’s a board battle,” Treliving said. “But if you put one faceoff circle right in the middle of each end zone – so you’re right in front of the net. The puck’s being dropped there and how your faceoff alignment (works), we spent a lot of time on it. I thought it was a really cool idea.”
The belief that a player cannot drop to the ice in order to block a shot was also discussed. This was something that was brought up by former Dallas Stars and Montreal Canadiens GM Bob Gainey years ago, but was initially dismissed. Now general managers believe it could make more sense.
“We talk about the whole thing about not blocking shots or not being able to block shots, well, everybody’s talking about it,” New Jersey Devils GM Ray Shero said. “That was mentioned a long time ago by Bob Gainey. Everybody thought he was crazy. But that’s what you try to do, look 15, 20 years ahead. What is good for the game? The quality of the game is most important.”
Added Treliving, “At the time, people were like, really? Now you look back at it, it had some merit.’’
Other ideas GMs mentioned to reporters involved the possibility lessening dump-ins. They also said they discussed bigger goal nets.
“That always comes up. That’s in every conversation,” said New York Rangers general manager Jeff Gorton said in regards increasing the net size. “I think that is always going to be there as long as the goalies keep growing.”
Old rules were brought up as well, and whether they’re now relevant to the current game.
“We talked about rules from the past, you know – no forward passes in the 30s or before the 30s and stuff like that,” said Buffalo Sabres GM Tim Murray. “So nothing is completely crazy I don’t think because if you look at the history of the game, there has been huge changes that probably people didn’t foresee coming at the time.”
The GMs went over the standings and whether giving a team three points for a regulation win could help game play. Treliving said the GMs were “a little mixed” on their opinions for this.
“The whole idea behind it is that with five minutes to go in the third period, is the game better because we’re chasing another point or is it going to make that much difference?” he said.
Lamoriello said he didn’t like the three-point concept specifically, but did believe a losing team shouldn’t be rewarded with any type of point.
“I’m not one who personally is in favor of three point games, but I’m also not in favor of getting a point if you don’t win,” Lamoriello said. “I’d rather see the game just be two and zero, or end up in a tie one and one. I’d rather see it that way than you just extend the number of points.”
Overall, the GMs saw this as a good first step to get the conversation moving in preparation for the next two days where they’re expected to tackle the offside rule, the merits of the bye-week and other issues in the game.
“I think it’s (research and development). Every company you look at, it’s (research and development), right? That’s what you do,” Treliving said. “To grow and to expand and to get your mind – we try to do it in our offices. OK, let’s talk about ideas.”
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