NHL GM Meetings: Rule Changes We'd Like to See


The NHL GMs are meeting today in Toronto, for their annual conference on all things about the game.  Usually out of these meetings we get suggestions for future rule changes, which are then sent to the Board of Governors for further discussion and possible approval.  While they are at it, here are some suggestions for four rule changes we’d like to see going forward:

1) Coach’s Challenge:  The potential for a coach’s challenge is expected to be a big topic of discussion at the meetings.  My colleague, Russell McKenzie, has already gone more in-depth on the issue.  I’ll follow that up by saying that the game is quite simply too fast, and there is too much going on for referees to be able to make every call accurately right now.  There are far too many mistakes, whether they are on goals (goalie interference being the key issue), offsides (see Matt Duchene’s goal), penalties (see Travis Zajac’s penalty vs the Rangers last night, or PK Subban’s high sticking penalty that shouldn’t have been in OT last night), embellishment, or other important calls.  Put in a coach’s challenge to ensure that teams are able to review the call when a key one goes against them.  Getting things right at the most important times should be the objective.  Sure there will need to be limits, and perhaps like an illegal stick challenge a two minute penalty for a coach who gets it wrong.  Undoubtedly there would also need to be a list of the type of plays that can and can’t be challenged.  This definitely needs to happen.

2) Overtime: The NHL has already admitted that it feels the shootout was becoming too important in deciding games and final standings, and modified their tie-breakers by discounting shootout wins.  The use of ROW (regulation and overtime wins) already admits that there are some issues with the current system.  Here is my suggestion; lets expand overtime in the regular season.  We can have 5 minutes of 4 on 4 overtime, followed by 5 minutes of 3 on 3.  This change will create an extra five minutes of exciting wide open hockey to try and settle a game before we get to the penalty shots.

3) 3-Point Games:  I still believe it is an issue that every game is not worth the same amount of points.  Games that are won in regulation see two points awarded to the winner, while games that are decided in overtime see an extra point given to the loser.  This means that some games are worth more in the standings than others.  Why not use the system that the IIHF uses during their tournaments?  Three points for a regulation win, two points for a shootout or OT win, one point for a shootout or OT loss, and nothing for a regulation loss.  Let’s reward the teams that win games in regulation, and give them an extra point for their efforts.

4) The Trapezoid: Following the 2004-05 NHL lockout, the NHL instituted a new rule prohibiting goaltenders from playing the puck in certain areas of the ice. Funny little trapezoids were drawn on the ice behind the nets and NHL goaltenders were not allowed to play pucks behind the goal line and in the corners (or face a two minute delay of game penalty).  The rule was meant to create more forechecking and more goal scoring opportunities, but there is little evidence it is having its intended effect.  In fact some might argue that it is the opposite and allowing goalies to play more pucks creates more turnovers and scoring chances.  Also, let’s allow the teams with goalies who are good puck handlers be allowed to take advantage of all of their players’ skills.

What do you guys think?  Feel free to leave your comments on these suggestions, or any other rule changes you’d like to see below.

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  1. 1. Coaches challanges will only slow the game down. Yes, everyone wants to see the game be called correctly but I would not be a fan of this rule.
    2. Overtime, IMO should be 10 min of 4 on 4. 3 on 3 would grow as stale as the shootout over time (no pun intended)
    3. I totally agree with your proposal for the 3 point regulation time wins.
    4. The “Trapezoid” is awful, let the goalies play the puck wherever they want. High risk, high reward.

    Allow me to also add I think the player clearing the puck out of play for a delay of game penalty is the worst rule change in hockey in the last 50 years. 99% of the time a player does not do this on purpose so i dont think they should be penalized. so you ask if they get rid of it what will stop players from doing this on the regular, (no penalty for doing it then) My suggestion is raise the glass to the end board height on the sides. That should cut down on alot of them.

  2. Hi Ben, I agree with your suggestions I would add the following.

    1) Take one ref off the ice, and have a video ref. He could be in wireless contact with the on ice ref. In addition to calls made on the fly, he would have until the next whistle to make a call after reviewing a hit.
    Also automatic fines for dirty plays could be assessed anytime up to an hour following the game.
    2)Mandatory visors, mandatory helmet sensors to catch brain injuries.
    3)Goalie pads downsized.
    4)No touch icing when there is a race for the puck. Ice the puck more than ten times in a game and its a delay of game penalty.

  3. 1) One coach’s challenge per game seems fair. As a devils fan the penalty to Zajac last night was f*cking rediculous. Thankfully it didn’t effect the outcome of the game.

    2) Why can’t games end in ties? Extending the 5 minute 4v4 to 10 minutes 4v4 seems fine. If it’s still tied after 10min than each teams gets a point. Next.

    3) This issue goes away when you stop enforcing that every game must have a winner/loser. Ties are fine, look at the euro football (soccer) leagues.

    4) The Brodeur trapezoid rule should stay. As much as I hated it at first I think it’s a good way to increase offensive zone time by teams that dump in. However, I would like to see a goalie be able to play the puck outside the trapezoid when his team is on the power play. Soft dumps to the corner by the penalty killing team wouldn’t work as well. Perhaps make the trapezoid a rectangle as well.

  4. Hey Ben, I must say some of these suggestions I have been thinking about for a while,

    1) I don’t think that the challenge is realistic for hockey, especially for penalties. Penalties are a judgement call by the referees and that would be taking away their integrity, football doesn’t even allow challenging penalties.

    2) I agree that there should be more overtime before the shootout, but I must say I find the shootout really exciting and definitely don’t want to see it taken out. 10 minutes of 4 on 4, or 2 periods of 5 minute 4 on 4 play?

    3) I find 3 point games very frustrating because they definitely skew the rankings, a team could potentially make the playoffs by losing every game of the season, as long as they lose in overtime. That wouldn’t be very fair would it? Making all games 3 point games gives reasoning for the overtime pointing system. If they don’t award 3 points for a regulation win, they shouldn’t award a point for an overtime/shootout loss.

    4) Martin Brodeur, that is all.

    5) Mandatory visors, I think, are something that should be discussed in depth at the meeting. Especially after the Marc Stall incident, I think its time to address that problem. I know people will say, “well its their choice, they’re professionals” but if that is the case, why defend the use of helmets. The game is faster, the shots are harder I think its time for better head protection.

  5. Another thought provoking piece. I’d add shrinking goalie pads as a priority. They are so big that there is nothing to shoot at. I love your overtime proposal!

  6. Bring back the rule where high-sticks were automatic five minutes and a game. Make the same rule for headshots/hits from behind. Players would learn to keep their sticks down and not run guys needlessly. It would make the game safer, and increase scoring if guys were being stupid.

  7. 4.) Make the crease bigger, get rid of the trapezoid and let the goalie play the puck everywhere. BUT MAKE HIM FAIR GAME TO HIT OUTSIDE THE CREASE. Goalies will be much less likely to go play that puck if they can get nailed like everyone else. It would force all goalies to think twice before playing the puck and make the game much more exciting.