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.

  • Wax Man Riley

    @ Ender

    Good point on tht 2 on 2. That would be exciting. I didn’t really think of it like that. Whou wouldn’t want to see Crosby vs Ovechkin, straight up (or with Malkin and Green). Or what about Hemsky and Hall vs Seguin and Savard

    • Ender

      As I reflect on it more today, I think I’ve given up on the 2×2 idea. Yeah, it would be exciting to watch, but . . .

      Do you remember those old Sport Select ads where they put the polar bears behind the nets? That would be exciting to watch too, but not necessarily good for the game of hockey. The case I argued when discussing the shootout going from three shooters to five was that the best team should win. Playing 2×2 might be fun to watch, but it works exactly against the principle I just advocated. I think the 2×2 might have to wait for the All-Star Break and the Superskills Competition. It has its place, but not in the regular season. 82 games are for all the players, not just the team’s two best.

  • Wax Man Riley

    As far as the proposed changes, The icing sounds alright. Not a major change, but has some merit.

    I’m actually all for having an official off the ice in the box. It gets a body off the ice and opens up slightly. What more big brother can you get than viodeo replays. This is a minor change that doesn’t change the fundamentals.

    I do NOT want to see the 2 on 2 that is for sure! I like overtime being overtime. i miss 5 on 5. Plus the Oilers have, for the last 5 or 7 years been brutal 4 on 4 as it is. Painful to watch. If they HAVE to reduce players, 3 on 3 is a streach….are we in micro mites? And it would also be nice to see 0 points for an OT loss, 1 point for a tie, and an extra awarded to the winner of the shootout.

    Narrowing the net could open things up a bit. I’d be alright watching that. It does not change the fundamentals again.

    Anything to open the ice surface up. I love watching international competition ont he big ice. The 2006 and 2002 Olympics were a joy to watch (except Canada’s results in ’06).

  • Wax Man Riley

    One of the best if not unconventional rule changes I have heard of is to increase the size of the blue lines from 1′ to 3′. This essentially gives 2 extra feet in the offensive and defensive zone, and the neutral zone. Players would have to be fully over teh lines into the white area before they are considered to be in the next zone (for offsides, zone clearing etc…) This would increase the defensive/offensive zone sizes from 75′ to 76′ or even 77’depending on which way the lines were extended.
    Without increasing the size of the rink, we just increased the playing surface.

    • Pajamah

      Yeah, they should call every UFA to say they won’t offer them a contract. Get off your high horse, he’s dime a dozen, and got paid millions of dollars to do something he loves.

      He’s lucky he was a UFA, or he may have been waived along with POS and Selfish Moreau

  • Ender

    @ Jason Gregor

    I agreed with most of your takes on the proposed new rules. There were three I differed on slightly, though:

    1) The proposed OT format going 4×4 to 3×3 to 2×2: I like this idea. Not many times is it going to get all the way to 2×2 (heck, there’s a lot of open ice and dangerous chances with 3×3) but in the event that they’re still tied, why not go all the way? Can you imagine watching Ovechkin and Green VS Crosby and Malkin? That would be entertaining.*

    *Edit: I’ve rethought this; see #30 below.

    2) Moving the shootout from 3 shooters to 5: I don’t mind that. While the current shootout is exciting as it is, I couldn’t honestly tell you with a straight face that I believe the best team always wins. If it goes that far, the best team should win. 5 shooters would go farther toward making that happen consistently.

    3) The proposed ‘static’ faceoff from the ice surface and the 12″ penalty for jumping the whistle: It sounds really weird at first and is very non-traditional, but looking at it impartially there is something to be said for the idea. No more having the ref muff a drop. Every draw precisely, exactly the same. Faster and easier to start. Centers paying attention because jumping doesn’t just waste everyone’s time, it ensures that you are likely going to lose possession for your team.

    I get that it’s radically different. But is the ref trying to drop the puck in just the right way in exactly the right spot really the best way to do it? While there would certainly be a big adjustment period across the league, I think this might just be better for hockey in the future. Not as exciting, maybe, but certainly it puts the outcome a lot more in the hands of the players and a lot less in the hands of the refs.

  • Muji 狗

    I think I speak for all Oilers fans when I say, “Thank you Fernando for your years of service and commitment to the Oilers; thank you for that magical spring; and best of luck in Chi-town!”

    It would be cool if the Hawks repeated and he brought the cup back home!

  • One thing I’d consider is getting rid of the free point for going to OT (the “loser point”). I’d make it 2 points for winning in OT and no points for losing in OT. However if the game goes to the shootout, then I’d award a point to each team and have them shoot for a bonus point since the shootout is a coin toss most nights anyway. This way teams tied in the third wouldn’t just sit back and defend for OT to guarantee themselves points.

  • Woogie

    Putting more room behind the net, In Europe they have bigger ice surfaces. Do we see more wrap arounds? Even the Olympics use the bigger ice. I don’t think this will create more chances.

    I believe as a fan the shoot out was the best rule change. How many people out there want it to go to a shoot out when the game goes into overtime???? I know I do. Put it to 5 players for the first round. WHY THE HECK NOT?!?!

    Having a whistle start the play has to be the stupidest rule ever.

    However, I do agree with you, I wish they would look at getting rid of the instigator rule!