August 09, 2010
Hello, this is a feature that will run through the entire season and aims to recap the weekend's events and boils those events down to one admittedly superficial fact or stupid opinion about each team. Feel free to complain about it.
This month, the NHL will bring together some people in Toronto for its Research, Development and Orientation Camp, which is basically the way the League tests out potential rule changes.
And most of the time, these experiments never get out of the testing phase, and for good reason. But if a few of the changes they test out this year actually warrant serious consideration, they'll make the game more fun to watch (and the cynics would say that's exactly why they won't implement them).
Take, for example, the rule that would change the overtime process drastically. Teams would play four-on-four for three minutes, then three-on-three, then two-on-two. That allows for lots of strategizing and different matchups.
Would teams counter with two D or try to open them up with their top-line forwards?
But even beyond that, you could have fun with your friends betting on which player would commit the hilariously egregious own-zone giveaway and leave his goaltender completely out to dry.
(Coming Up: Mrs. Modano wears the pants; Sid rogers Roger; giggling at Gerber; Chelios interns with Wings; Kovalchuk, Kings and the cap; Ducks fans bitter about Kariya; Hartford rallies support for return of the Whale; doubting Timmy Thomas; Stan Bowman, master of the salary cap; the Canucks and the Heritage Classic; Carey Price's(notes) awful postseason percentages; and one fan's idea on getting Malkin to the Rangers.)
They're also talking about widening up the blue lines again, which would certainly increase offense ... and also play into the proposed rule changes related to offside. Under those, teams that go off would be punished by being unable to make a line change. One proposal, which goes too far, would have the draw come back into their zone.
These proposals are great because, since every team has that one guy that goes offside constantly, this will be an easy way for fans to find a new player they can irrationally hate irrespective of his other on-ice contributions.
The League will also test out a whole slew of changes to faceoffs, like removing the puck drop from the equation and simply having guys jostle for it like in street hockey. But the faceoff change they should definitely implement would make it so that when a player is booted from the dot for an infraction, the opposing center gets to choose who on the ice will replace him. Imagine the hilarity of David Steckel, who won 59.2 percent of his 1,076 draws last season, calling out some random defenseman. Feelings would get hurt, fights would break out. It'd be fantastic.
The NHL is also mulling a rule NCAA hockey briefly inserted into the rulebook before pulling it back out again: Teams being unable to ice it on the penalty kill.
This would be great because guys that are already really, really gassed from being out there for 55 seconds of a Stamkos-Gagne-Vinny-Marty-Hedman shooting gallery would have to clear the zone by lugging the puck out or softly lobbing it to the center. Teams would get up to like 35 percent on the man advantage. Who wouldn't love that?
Then of course there are the simpler rule changes: no-touch icing (Kurtis Foster(notes) is all about this one), a bigger crease (effectively rendering Tomas Holmstrom(notes) even more useless), long line change in overtimes (sure to result in more too-many-men penalties), and a second referee being off the ice (stupid calls just got stupider).
Hockey purists (a.k.a. no-fun-niks) would hate these, of course; but if the goal is to create excitement and draw in new fans -- and it is -- then that's pretty damn funny.
What We Learned
Anaheim Ducks: Did you know that Ducks fans apparently have some residual hard feelings toward Paul Kariya(notes)? Even though it was the team that didn't qualify him and sent him to the Avs. In 2003. I have a better reason Ducks fans shouldn't want him on the team: He's 35 and a bit past it.
Boston Bruins: "No real reason to doubt Thomas." Except he's 36, coming off surgery to replace a torn hip labrum, hasn't been able to practice in a butterfly, is getting paid a ludicrous amount of money to play back-up to Tuukka Rask(notes), and has a no-movement clause. But that's all.
Buffalo Sabres: Great point by Mike Harrington -- Buffalo has a self-imposed cap, but won't say what it is and still expect fans to not be upset when they nickel-and-dime a kid like Tim Kennedy(notes).
Carolina Hurricanes: This is as good a place to put it as any -- The former owners of the Whalers are traveling the state to drum up support for an NHL expansion franchise in Hartford. Hey, it worked for the Cleveland Browns (just not on the field).
Chicago Blackhawks: An actual Stan Bowman quote -- "Perceptions are, 'Geez, the Blackhawks mismanaged the salary cap', but I'd say we did the opposite: we managed the hell out of it. We exploited it in a way.'' Where is the NHL to right this outrageous wrong?
Columbus Blue Jackets: Mike Commodore(notes) said he had a bad season last year because he spent too much time lifting weights, and was slow and heavy as a result. So now he's doing a ton of speed drills. Good news if you went to Vegas and put down money on him to win the Fastest Skater competition this year.
Dallas Stars: Mike Modano's(notes) wife was one of the main reasons he chose to go to Detroit, so he could prove the Stars wrong. But there is a positive in all this: Now "Mr. Mandy Modano" jokes will surely abound all year.
Los Angeles Kings: If the NHL announces that it did indeed reject the Ilya Kovalchuk(notes) contract later today, then that could open the door for the Kings to sign him instead. I bet both sides would be thrilled with that arrangement.
Minnesota Wild: The Wild say they signed John Madden(notes) partly because he will create more competition among other potential roster players down the middle. Quick, though, name two other centers on the Wild. Bonus points if you can do it without naming Mikko Koivu(notes).
Montreal Canadiens: Here are some real in-depth stats on Carey Price's postseason save percentages. My favorite: .778 against players whose regular-season shooting percentage was between 10 and 14 percent.
Nashville Predators: The Predators have announced a new premium season ticket package, which will only be sold in "very limited" quantities. Meaning that only 11 of their 12 fans will get the chance to buy them. Sorry, that one other guy.
New Jersey Devils:
It's going to be hard
for the Devils to unload salary given the number of teams that are already
over the cap. I dunno, maybe they luck out and drop about $6 million later this
New York Rangers: Holy hell does Larry Brooks raise an interesting point -- What if Wade Redden(notes) plays so well that they can't in good conscience demo... hahaha just kidding, of course he's going to be awful and get sent to the minors.
Ottawa Senators: The Senators have hired Kurt Kleinendorst to coach their AHL team. "I'm 95 per cent sunny and five per cent -- you can use the word prick or come up with a better word, but I think that's the right combination to have nowadays." I like this guy already.
Philadelphia Flyers: Further proof that it's really the middle of August: Broad St. Hockey had a whole post making a full team of players who played less than 30 games in the NHL after making their debut with the Flyers. I swear.
Pittsburgh Penguins: Sidney Crosby's(notes) birthday was Saturday. It was also Roger Federer's. So they hung out in Toronto. The Crosby money quote: "It's always fun to understand and learn what he may go through so that makes it a lot of fun."
Gold Star Award
Big ups to the Oil for signing Martin Gerber and giving me something to laugh about for a few minutes. That was awful nice of them.
Minus of the Weekend
This no hockey stuff is really starting to wear thin.
Perfect HFBoards trade proposal of the week
User "Boom Boom Geoffrion" has this blockbuster ready to go:
1st round pick
2nd round pick
Hoo buddy this is a whopper.
So the other 449 families live in fear? Is that what we're saying?