The NHL’s general managers met this week in Toronto and examined many topics aimed at improving the game. Everything from visors, to coach’s challenges, to the size of goaltending equipment was put under the microscope. There are many ways the game can be improved, and some of the ways are very simple things. Let’s examine four things that we would like to see changed to help improve the game.
Automatic replay on any contact to the head: The NHL has made it their goal to make headshots a priority, and there really should be zero tolerance for this type of hit. The problem is that this season, we have seen on ice officials miss head shot calls both ways. There have been instances where a player was ejected from a game when there was no contact with the head, and there have been instances where players were allowed to continue on in games when a headshot did occur without being penalized. The idea here is that this call is too important to miss on at all, either way. Why not borrow a concept from the NBA, and allow the on ice officials go to a monitor the way NBA referees do with flagrant fouls? Yes, it may add an extra minute to the game, but if it ultimately can be an effective tool to help the NHL protect its players and officials, why not give it a shot?
The coach’s challenge: Full disclosure here, we have always been against most forms of added replay, instead hoping the league would work with the on ice officials to improve their performance. That being said, it’s time. The inconsistency in officiating from one game to the next has been hard to deal with on a league wide level this year, and giving the coaches the ability to challenge a play, or two, would help ease the pain of some of the calls we have seen this year. Sure there are issues with how to make it work, but it is probably something that needs to get done. Give a coach a challenge, and if his challenge is not overturned, give his team a two-minute delay of game penalty. If he is correct, he keeps his challenge. Also, this would work best if the on ice referees were the ones reviewing the plays. This is not something you really want going to the War Room in Toronto.
More transparency from the Department of Player Safety: Let’s start this off by mentioning what a terrific job Brendan Shanahan has done with his department since he has taken over. No one can question the work he and his team put into player safety on a daily basis, but there is still room for improvement in terms of communication. There are still times when there a lot of questions surrounding exactly how the league views certain plays, and there are no real answers. For example, earlier this week, when Flyers forward Zach Rinaldo threw two questionable hits, there was nothing from the league either way publicly that stated how the Department of Player Safety ruled, or at least none that was reported. With social media being what it is today, it would not take much to put a couple sentences out on why a play was viewed the way it was, just to clear up any confusion.
End the shootout: This is a hot topic for many people, but the time has come to put an end to the shootout. Even though there is absolutely nothing wrong with ties, and ties in the NHL worked for many years, it is understandable that most would rather see one team win and one team lose. Here is my proposal. If the game is tied after regulation, play another twenty minutes at 4-on-4, with the first team to score getting the two points. If you were to play the extra period like they do in the playoffs, with the removal of the television timeouts, it would not be an all-night event. If there is no resolution after twenty minutes of 4-on-4, then call it a night, with both teams earning a point in the standings. It is not ideal to those of you that don’t want to see a tie, but at least you will leave the arena knowing that each team had every opportunity to win the game. And finally, it is also time to get the “loser point” out of the equation. There is no scenario where a team should be awarded standings points for losing a game.
These are four things we would like to see done to help improve the game. What are some things you would like to see done moving forward to help improve the game?