RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT: WILL WE SEE SOME CHANGES?

Jason Gregor
August 17 2011 09:27AM

For the next two days, Brendan Shanahan the new Senior Vice President of Player Safety and Hockey Operations for the NHL will be overseeing the Research and Development camp in Toronto. Ken Hitchcock and Dave King will run 33 top-rated juniors through the different scenarios while NHL general managers and executives watch intently from the stands at the Maple Leafs practice facility.

This is Shanahan's first real assignment since taking over his new role, but he is no stranger to this type of forum. During the lockout he spearheaded the "Shanahan Summit" in December of 2004. In 2004 they looked a variety of things, and the biggest change we saw coming out of the lockout was the crackdown on obstruction and the debut of the trapezoid.

This year the suggestions seem to be more proactive than reactive, although some of them seem a tad ridiculous.

Here are some of the suggestions they will monitor over the next two days.

Having three faceoff dots, one in each zone, down the centre of the rink.

Faceoffs in front of the net might become much more entertaining and could lead to more scoring opportunities, but I'm not ready for them yet. I'd need to see them at another level before I'd want to see them in the NHL

Using a variation of the faceoff, where a whistle starts play rather than the traditional puck drop.

I'm not making this up. This suggestion makes the three-stick-tap in shinny look professional.

Trying both no-touch icing and a hybrid icing rule, where referees can blow the play dead prior to the defending player touching the puck.

I like the hybrid version, but I'd like to see the NHL release the numbers on how many icings are negated by the offensive player over the past five seasons. I can't see there being that many, so I'm not sure why they wouldn't implement the hybrid rule. If the defender reaches the faceoff dot in the defensive zone ahead of the offensive skater they blow the whistle to avoid a major collision/injury while racing to the puck near the endboards. Makes sense to me.

Having the second referee located off the playing surface.

Where would he be located? Will he have a better vantage point than being on the ice? Not a fan of this one.

Not allowing a team to change lines after it commits an offside, and the faceoff would be in the defensive zone of the team that went offside.

Easily the dumbest suggestion. Does anyone honestly think teams go offside on purpose, just so they can make a change? Next.

Verification line (additional line behind the goal line).


I like this suggestion. They put another liner in the net, so when the go upstairs if they see any part of the puck touching this line they know the entire puck is across the goal line. It will be three inches behind the goal line. We've seen situations where a part of the puck is visible, while the rest is under the goalie. Based on the size of the puck if it is touching this line then it is fully across the actual goal line. This doesn't change the game, but increases the likelihood of them awarding goals correctly.

Overtime variation (four minutes of 4-on-4 followed by three minutes of 3-on-3).


I've seen this in the AJHL for the past few seasons and I love it. 3-on-3 is exciting and this means fewer shootouts. Thumbs up!

Shootout variation (5-man shootout precedes sudden-death format).


Why not. We will have fewer shootouts, so when we do get one the fans will get more bang for the buck.

Shootout variation (5-man shootout with repeat players if tied after 5 shooters).


When Jonathon Toews put on a clinic in at the WJC this format was excellent, but I'd like to see more players rather than the same ones. I'd like to see the 3rd and 4th liners get a shot once a year, rather than always the same five or six players.

Shallow-back nets.


Currently NHL nets are 44 inches deep. The new ones will be 40 inches deep. This would give the D-man more room behind the net, but it also would allow for quicker wraparounds from the forwards. I like it.

Delayed penalty variation (offending team must exit zone in possession of puck to stop play).


An interesting consideration, but too shinny-like for me.

Changes only permitted on-the-fly (except after goals and upon manpower changes).

This might lead to fewer line matchups, or it would have some coaches pulling guys off the ice too often. Too gimmicky for me.

Strict enforcement of goaltenders covering puck outside crease (Rule 63.2).


What a concept, actually enforcing the rules. Of course this should happen.

Allow hand passes in all zones.

This actually intrigues me. It would likely lead to more cycling of the puck and possible scoring chances, but it might also lead to more hand injuries from guys getting slashed while trying to play the puck. I don;t see anyway it gets passed though, and it isn't in my top-five.

Overtime variation (switch ends).


Did you know that 40% of NHL goals are scored in the 2nd period when teams have to make longer line changes? I'm all for this rule. This is already part of the game (2nd period), so I think they should put it in for OT.
 

Faceoff variations (player encroaching can't replace thrown-out center, all faceoffs in circles; same linesman drops puck for all faceoffs).

An interesting twist to cheating on faceoffs. The offending guy can't take the draw. Sure why not.

No linesmen drop the puck exactly the same way, so I'd like to see that continue. I don't want players or linesmen  to become robotic.

All penalties to be served in their entirety.

This rule existed up until 1956, when it was changed because the Montreal Canadiens were too talented. In the 1980s the league abolished 4-on-4 play because the Oilers dominated so much, but they've since brought it back. This is a much bigger change, and one is likely to radical for the GMs. It would increase scoring, and we'd likely see a larger gap between good PP teams and bad ones, but we'd probably also see referees less likely to make a call late in the game. 

I'm on the fence on this one. I'd like to see it in the AHL, and see how it impacts the game. I'm close to saying yes.

Teams can't ice the puck while shorthanded.

The only rule that changes during the game is allowing teams to ice the puck while shorthanded, therefore I like this change. It would likely lead to more faceoffs in the early stages, but eventually players would adapt and the defensive teams would look to make plays rather than simply ice the puck.

TECHNICAL CHANGES

They will also look at a few technical changes.

On-ice officials communication -- ref-to-ref wireless

The game is difficult enough for referees. Would it help having some guy chirping in your ear while you watch the play? Some refs I've spoke with say they wouldn't like this, so I'll side with them.

Overhead camera -- to assist Hockey Operations reviews of various initiatives (verification line/goal netting/in-net camera)

If new cameras can help speed up the review process I'm all for it.

In-net camera -- mounted camera at one end with camera view focused on the goal line to help verify goals

Robotic camera --  to test camera angles for coverage closer to ice

Same as above.

Curved glass -- protection options at players bench areas

The Max Pacioretty rule. Player safety is a must and I don't see any negative in having curved glass near the bench areas.

GET RID OF CHEAP SHOTS

The one change I'd like to see is stricter discipline for dirty hits. Two or three games suspensions do nothing to deter players from delivering vicious/diry hits. Make suspensions a minimum five games for dirty hits, all the way up to 20 games, and then makedamn  sure you enforce these guidelines.

Five, ten and fifteen game suspensions will get the player's attention and they will adjust accordingly.

Which new rule would you like to see added/changed?

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One of Canada's most versatile sports personalities. Jason hosts The Jason Gregor Show, weekdays from 2 to 6 p.m., on TSN 1260, and he writes a column every Monday in the Edmonton Journal. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/JasonGregor
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#101 positivebrontefan
August 19 2011, 10:29AM
Trash it!
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trashes
Cheers
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cheers

All of the rule changes aside, did you see the shoutout goal between the legs and then flicked up and forward and then batted back out of the air by that one kid? Ridiculous I say. If that is all that came out of the whole camp it was a success, I have never seen anything like it.

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