NASHVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 12:  Referee Don VanMassenhoven #21 officiates a game between the Nashville Predators and the Edmonton Oilers on October 12, 2009 at the Sommet Center in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)

The NHL’s research and development is going on in Toronto and they are looking at ways to improve the game, and in some cases alter it. No one tabled getting rid of the instigator rule, which sucks, but some of the other proposals have some merit.

Here are a few that have been tabled.

Hybrid Icing: This proposed rule allows the linesman to make a ruling on whether a play will be called icing based on which player (defender or forechecker) reaches the faceoff dot first.

They want to eliminate violent crashes into the end boards. Ask Kurtis Foster if he likes this rule change.

Basically the rule would be when two players are racing back for the puck and are tied or very close at the top of the circle, the linesman would whistle it down as icing. If one player is clearly ahead play continues. I don’t see much wrong with this proposal. It is currently being used in the United States Hockey League, and they say it hasn’t changed the game. For the few, and it is only a few times, that the forward actually wins the race and negates the icing, I don’t see it altering the game very much.

I’d make this change.

Not allowing a team to change lines after it commits an offside: The idea is this will keep the game flowing more and stop teams from going offside on purpose to get a whistle.

My question is how often does this occur in a game? If the studies show it was happening four or five times a game, then implement it. But if this is a once a game infraction, does it really matter? I understand they want the game to continue moving, but will not changing on a neutral zone faceoff really scare teams into not going offside? I don’t see it having much of an impact.

I’d vote against this rule change.

Have the puck lying on the ice for a faceoff. Play is started by a whistle rather than the traditional puck drop: I’m not making this up.

What is the point of this? How does this speed up the game or make it safer, other than linesman not getting smacked in the shins or on the hands. You’d have ten year veterans who have honed their faceoff skills having to learn a new skill set. This is one of the more idiotic proposals that I can recall in recent years.

An emphatic NO for this rule change.

Altering the ice surface to have three faceoff dots, one in each zone, down the centre of the rink: The thinking here is that by having faceoffs in the middle of the ice, it might create more scoring chances.

This one is definitely thinking outside the box. It would make the battle in the faceoff circles better. Now you have guys who dominate on their backhand, but not on their forehand. Normally if the faceoff is to the goaltenders left side, the defensive team likes to use a left-handed draw man who can go to his backhand, while the attacking team likes to use a right-handed centre to draw it back to the right point. A dot in the middle means drawing it back to your left or right wouldn’t be that much different.

It would change the strategy on who guys lines up on the draws. Wingers would likely stay on their wing for the faceoff, rather than line up in front of the net and go crisscross to the offensive D-man.

This would alter the look of the game a lot, but I don’t see how they can ensure it improves the game. I’d need to see it at other levels first, before I’d make that drastic of a change. But at least it is one that makes you think.

I’d vote against this rule… for now.

Having the second referee located off the playing surface: This will eliminate one body on the ice and supposedly open up more space, and the referee in the crowd/penalty box could see more of the play.

One of the best parts of sport is the human element, and the unpredictability it causes. Having a referee off the ice is too “Big Brother is watching you” for me. And that is a George Orwell reference kids, not the lame reality show. Players make mistakes during the game all the time, and ideally you’d want the refs to make no mistakes, I just don’t see that as a realistic option. If a ref is two feet away from a player on the ice, he can hear if he actually got hit by an errant stick. If the ref is in the crowd, penalty box or press box, there is no way he can accurately determine if contact was made. Having a ref off the ice might correct some calls, but he’d probably screw up some others. I don’t see this improving the game.

I’d vote against this rule.

Narrowing the shallowness of the net by four inches to create more ice behind the net and enable more wrap-around attempts: An attempt to create more scoring.

I don’t see much wrong with this proposed change. It opens up more ice behind the net, without altering anything significant. It gives the offensive team more room to create chances from behind the net, and conversely so can the defender when he starts a play. Goalies would have to be wary of more wrap around attempts, but they won’t have to alter their angles when facing shooters.

I’d implement this rule.

Overtime would consist of having three minutes of 4 on 4, followed by three minutes of 3 on 3 and finally three minutes of 2 on 2: This should eliminate the amount of games that go to a shootout.

I used to call AJHL games and they used this formula in OT and it was awesome. They didn’t go to 2 to 2, but when they got to three on three it was highly entertaining. The pace was incredible and most games ended before going to a shootout. My only concern is two on two. That is a bit to gimmicky for me. If they would play five minutes of 4 on 4 and four minutes of 3 on 3 that would be better.

I’d vote against this rule as it stands, but if they stopped at 3 on 3 it would be great.

There were a few other proposed rule changes:

  • If a player is deemed to have committed a face-off violation, he will be required to move back and keep his skates behind a "penalty line" (1′ foot further back) to take the faceoff.

Too gimmicky for me.

  • The shoot would expand to five shooters instead of three. If it’s tied at the end of the shootout, it goes to sudden death shooting and no one shall shoot twice until all eligible shooters have shot.

Don’t see the need to extend to five instead of three in the first round.

  • Increase the size of the crease proportionally in all directions by three inches.

Didn’t we just make the crease smaller a few years ago? The crease is fine the way it is.

Which rules do you like? Is there anything you think the NHL should do to make the game better, other than get rid of the instigator rule?


Former Oiler, Fernando Pisani signed a one-year, one-way, $500,000 deal with the Chicago Blackhawks this afternoon.

“Obviously I’m excited. I’m going to a team that has a great chance to win. I spoke with (Stan) Bowman and he told me they want to use me in a checking role. But he also said I’d get the chance to play in lots of different roles.”

I could hear the genuine excitement in Pisani’s voice when I spoke with him minutes after signing and faxing his contract. It has been a frustrating last few seasons on and off the ice for the former St. Albert Saint and he can’t wait to get to Chicago.

He wants to put the past few seasons behind him, and he is aching to get back to the playoffs. If he can stay healthy, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him score 12-15 goals with the Hawks.


Last night Dan Kepley resigned as linebacker coach, and today the Eskimos fired O-Line coach, Jeff Bleamer. Kepley’s resignation isn’t a surprise. He was loyal to Danny Maciocia and I didn’t see him staying past the end of the season.

Kepley was one of the best linebackers to ever play the game, and he had lots of emotion as a coach, but he wasn’t the best technical coach. The Eskimos haven’t been a physical/emotional team for quite a few years, so if Kepley was the emotional coach, he wasn’t that effective at it.

With Maciocia out the of the picture management and the coaching staff want to implement some new schemes and Bleamer and Kepley weren’t on the same page as the rest of the staff.

Kepley will be replaced by Mark Nelson. Here’s what the release had to say about him.

“Nelson brings to the Eskimos 23 years of coaching experience in both the CFL and NCAA. Last season the Edmonton native was on the Winnipeg Blue Bombers coaching staff serving as the defensive coordinator and linebackers coach. Mark made his professional football coaching debut in 1992 as the special teams coordinator and linebackers coach for the Edmonton Eskimos. He spent three years with the Green and Gold (1992-’94) winning a Grey Cup with the team in 1993. The former CFL player has also won a Grey Cup as the defensive line coach with the Toronto Argonauts in 1996.”

Bleamer was replaced by former Eskimo, Tim Prinsen. I thought Prinsen should have hired last year, and while no one will confirm this I’ve long suspected he and Maciocia were never on the same page, and that’s why he wasn’t hired until today. Prinsen played centre, the most cerebral position on the O-line, so he understands every aspect of what it takes to be a solid lineman. He understands the game, but is also very emotional. He will demand this O-line protect better and stop missing assignments.

The Eskimos have a long ways to go before they become a true contender, but these moves are a good first step.

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    Aren’t you on holidays?

    I’d like to see these rules tried out in a some real games either in the AHL or maybe even the NHL pre-season.

    Some are pretty stupid, not sure how exactly you are going to win a draw from 1 foot further back. I do however like if you make a foul that the other guy gets to pick who he goes up against.

    The net one is interesting, just as long as the smaller depth of net doesn’t lead to pucks bounces out without the refs noticing.

    I also didn’t mind the idea of the second goal line.

  • Ender

    Watched an Irish hurling match yesterday and seen no injuries develop from the sport . As intense and physical as it can get, believe it or not , they all had respect for their opposition and their own health . Biggest difference was in hurling they have next to no protective gear of any sort , while hockey suffers from injuries due mainly and in correlation to the equipment they wear . In hurling they don’t even have gloves and, many players jump in front of an oversized baseball bats and hardball with reckless abandon , yet still no injuries , etc.. Only last few years some actually wera a hockey helment with a small face shield on it . The goalies wore no additional equipment as well surprisingly .

    So wheres all this necessity to equip hockey players with all this armour ? They want respect start taking some of the armour back off !

    Maybe they should build an upright above goal net and award points for slitting the uprights like football and hurling ? Might get a few goalies off their knees ? How about 3 or more points for a goal and 1 for splitting the uprights. That way we could see offence from more than just center of ice .

    Also liked how hurling only punished flagrant excess hooking , tripping , holding , slashing , cross checking , while allowing contact of stick on ball above the shoulders , etc .. They made a point of letting mild infractions go unpunished and part of regular play . Rough game that hurling , but NHL could learn a few things from it . Only fighting and tripping seem to be severly frowned upon and drew yellow cards or expulsion .

  • ubermiguel

    Shortening the net is a great idea. Easy to do and doesn’t change the traditional 4×6 shooting zone. The cameras + guys in Toronto are pretty good at getting goal calls right if it bounces out.

    Just go with no-touch icing. Call it the Kurtis-Foster rule.

    Watching old games it always amazes me how less “protected” or “armoured” they were 20+ years ago. Ideally someone could develop upper-body padding that protects the player but also won’t give opponents concussions.

  • Just curious, as I’ve seen it put out there by an anonymous source (so who knows if any validity at all – Jason, Robin?), that Paul Romaniuk could be in the mix for the Oil’s PBP man. Any substance there? Cause I hadn’t heard his name in the mix before.

    Also, Dustin Nielson is saying Dennis Beyak will NOT be the new PBP man. True?

  • In terms of the face-offs, guys are still going to be strong to their own backhand, this will just encourage it all the time. The necessity of having a quality LH face-off guy and a quality RH face-off guy would be eliminated (just having 2 decent drawmen, regardless of handidness would be fine).

    You’d still want to stack your wingers on the side you are strong on, especially if you’ve got a guy who can win them cleanly. Not sure I like this rule too much though, the middle of the ice would be completely crowded which would negate most good shots you could get off the draw.

  • Black Gold

    I’m going to go a little outside the box here.

    Some of the things the NHL wants to do:
    -Open the game up to add more excitement.
    -Limit play stoppages for better flow.

    Eliminate offsides. I’m serious. IMO, Offsides add less than they take away from the game. Offensive rushes are exciting.