RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT: WILL WE SEE SOME CHANGES?

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.

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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.

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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.

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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).


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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?


  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    Where is the whole puck over the glass review or puck that gets played off the netting? Instead they want to look at a mickey mouse shiny rule?

    The whole faceoff down the middle was that not Burkie’s idea from last year?

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    As for the cheapshots, I liked the minor suggestion that a team that has a suspended player isn’t allowed to call a guy up to replace said player.

    I’d also suggest they change the fines that go with dirty hits. Have an additional 100k or whatever on and see how many guys are willing to play dirty.

      • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

        That is never going to happen. How do you give a guy a lifetime suspension for being the final guy that takes Savard out of the game?

          • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

            So Crosby hits Hordichuk and Hordichuk retires due to injury. You think the league is going to get rid of Crosby?

            No one will have problems with guys like Cooke getting the long suspension, but soon as it’s a superstar on a 4th liner everyone will be up in arms.

            The league won’t risk it and the PA won’t agree to it.

          • Ned Braden

            Won’t happen because it leads to the situation where a star player hits a fourth liner and are out for 20 games. Like it or not star players drive league revenue and are treated differently than the rest of the league.

          • paul wodehouse

            …K i’m gonna assume you have the name of that star player that has in fact hit a 4th liner and said 4th liner has in fact been out for 20 games?

            …i’m talking about the plug that put the star player named Sid Crosby out …i’m talking about the idiot that put Savard into retirement …Matt Cooke should be outta the game … morons in this league that put star players out should be out as long as the revenue drivers are out …

            look here gentlemen… none of this is in fact ever going to happen…it just pisses me off that fringe players are still in the league when all they do is head hunt…Torres can only run around waiting to hurt someone until someone dies…then what?

          • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

            I don’t know how long the injuries were, but Doan blindside on Sexton, Briere cross-check on Neilsen, Burns butt end to Bernier, Jumbo Joe on Perron (which he still hasn’t played), Jokinen cross-check to wolski face etc…

            That’s all from last year, so ya stars do make cheap plays. But like I said earlier people turn a blind eye to them. They only care when it’s Cooke, Carcillo or Avery doing something stupid.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2010%E2%80%9311_NHL_suspensions_and_fines

            Edit: Also how long was Campbell out when Ovechkin took him out?

          • paul wodehouse

            …all good points, i dunno how long any of these players injuries were and i’m not only caring when it’s the Cookes and Averys that are at the heart of the most glaring offenses…maybe Shanahan will make penalties a ton harsher if he has the stick…you’ve done your homework [Oggy] and showed me more than i thought was on the table…if one player gets to avoid serious injury by the league and the PA agreeing to get the gooning out of the game i’m all for it…

            basic respect for fellow players has been lost … it’s a shame

          • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

            I actually didn’t think it was that bad until I looked it up. I was really only looking for Ovechkin, but he doesn’t even get suspended half the time.

            I really think harsher suspensions like Gregor stated and consistency will go a long way.

            Also have to wonder if they go back to 2 line passes if the game being slower would result in less concussions? Most love the speed of the neutral zone, but that has to be one factor in the rise of concussions.

          • stevezie

            I don’t think respect for fellow players was ever a major factor in preventing injuries. Players today are friendlier with each other than ever before, and a quick glance at an game from the seventies shows that “the code” is a much more recent invention than most people think.
            I’m in the camp that thinks the injury problems stem from players that are bigger, stronger, faster than ever before, and wearing equipment that turns them into missiles. Rule changes are all well and good, but I think changing pads should be step one.

          • paul wodehouse

            …OK if the players are bigger stronger and faster all the more reason to fully understand that they are able to become the [misguided] missiles you speak about stevzie…they could be a less padded missile but they also should, as elite athletes be able to control their every movement and ultimately avert the devastating collisions by a, yes i know, split second decision to either lean this much this way or that much that way…even at some of the top speeds they get to they SHOULD still to some extent be able to control their trajectory…the problem i think is the real goof balls don’t care to avert that collision and that’s when they should become a lot less richer for their stupid behavior…they are not the smartest of human beings these hockey players but they are still able to think stuff out don’tcha think? if they know what subtraction is and it’s happening to their bank accounts then …

            please don’t get me wrong, last thing i want is the ‘pussification’ of our game …first thing i want is safe attitudes…it’s the mindset that needs changing imo…after that have atter!

          • An eye for an eye and soon the whole league will be blind.

            As for the proposed change to not allow a PK team to ice the puck…. that’s insane and I hope to dear baby jesus I never see it implemented!

            Hockey 101 teaches you that when in doubt, get it out! Not being able to ice the puck on a PK is flat out ridiculous. It would change the entire way the game is played. You spend an eternity trying to teach kids to fire it off the boards/glass and out of the zone and stop screwing around and trying to be pretty with the puck in their own zone because it leads to turnovers and goals against. Now after all that time we are saying you can’t do that for risk of icing??!?! GAH!

      • Chris.

        an eye for an eye type thing I can agree with in certain circumstances. Certainly would warrant some consideration on the Bertuzzi thing.

        With Savard and Crosby – they are probably the result and many hits. Then you have the Ladislav Smid factor who is likely more susceptible to concussions that the normal Joe.

        Something like a flagrant slash breaking a bone . . I could get on board with that.

  • Chris.

    I purposly bought seats in section 230. This means I sit right in the Oiler attack zone for the first period, third period, OT, and the shoot out. It would devalue my seats if they swapped zones for OT.

  • Puritania

    “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.”

    Ugh, this one needs to never see the light of day. Can’t believe it was even considered let alone made it this far into the conversation.

  • I dont mind tweaking the enforcement of existing rules, or making them more clear, but generally I am opposed to making new rules and changes to the game.

    I dont see this desire to change the game in too many other sports and they do just fine. Hell, Baseball cant even get the NL to add a DH to the lineup and the AL has had it longer than many fans have been alive.

    Soccer isnt changing their rules to promote more scoring. 1-1 draws are the norm and they eat that garbage up globally.

    Why should hockey continue to pervert its rules every year? It has done nothing to grow the game in the US or abroad. The game being played now in the NHL was never played by its own players when they were learning the game as children. How could it? The sport and its rules are in a constant state of flux.

    Pick some rules, nail down their enforcement, and stop revising them every year. Please.

    HOWEVER, in the spirit of complying with the NHL’s wish to constantly change their sport, I will propose that on Diving penalties the Diver ONLY gets the penalty. How can it be diving and tripping at the same time? One or the other.

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    The rule i’d like to see enforced, is that of diving. Like goalies covering the puck outside of the crease, it is in the rule book, however is seldom called. For me, keeping the players honest is key to the games integrity, flow and success. As it is right now calling an NHL game has to be one of the toughest sports to ref based on the amount of discretion, speed, etc. Add in a new focus on head shots and zero tolerance towards these hits and those from behind while players continue to do less to guard against putting themselves in vulnerable situations knowing that penalties will result. Combine these elements and you’ve got a very difficult job even before you have players diving, playing up injuries, head hits, not protecting themselves and infractions of all kinds. To make things easier to call and to preserve the honor and integrity of the game i would propose an increase in diving penalties as well as make the penalty a 5 minute major that becomes a reviewable offense that is subject to supplemental discipline. The soccer element has been removed from the game and life for refs is made easier thereby increasing consistency and successful implementation of the rules.

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    They really need to have a conference with all the players, management etc.. and make the rules clear.

    Why is it that it takes a day or two to find out if a hit is dirty or not by the new standards?

  • Also, an equipment rule geared towards player safety. All shoulder pads and elbow pads are required to any hard plastic or composite materials to no less then (x) amount of thickness beneath the surface of (x) energy absorbent padding. Note, i’m not saying shoulder pads, etc. should be thicker per se, just that there has to be some semblance of player safety considered for the impacts of this “protective” material on contacting other players. As it is now, every should/elbow to the head is basically bowling ball to face in stead of bowling ball in a cushioned, impact reducing enclosure to the face. Concussions reduced. Credit Don Cherry.

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    just implement no-touch icing already…jeez. it will help speed up the game (although a small amount granted), and from my viewpoint there is no reason that it would hurt the game.

    @Arch

    as much as i am a tradionalist of sorts i do applaude the NHL for having RDC’s. i think that change in whatever capactiy, being it valid and workable, is a necessary part of growth.

    sure the other sports may not tweak there game as much as the NHL seems to, it certainly doesn’t mean they shouldn’t investigate the notion.

    again it is nice to see the leadership of the NHL at least having their eyes open to the future of hockey and its growth and viability.

    • It’s the notion that change=growth that I challenge.

      I dont buy it. And why should I? That is a premise that has no evidence to back it up. Big rule changes since the lockout havent prevented major american markets from failing. The NHL just signed a TV deal that is hands down the worst of all major North American sports, and neither the League, the media, nor the players know what a dirty hit looks like.

      Changes to equipment and procedure are one thing the NHL can do to look to the future. But I see no connection to changing rules and “having an eye open to the future.”

      Baseball wouldnt consider changing its rules to 2 strikes and 3 balls to speed up the game, but I get the feeling that Hockey would in a heartbeat. That’s not a good thing.

      Own your sport. Dont make apologies. Just play.

      • change=growth is the root for all that you see around you today. so yes, they are synonomous with each other.

        as for sport, in particular hockey, it has grown immmensely since its inception. to state that today’s game is best and cannot be approved upon is utter nonsense.

        i don’t want to see any crazy off the wall changes to the game but i most certainly do want them to inquire into sensible and logical changes to this wonderful game.

        we already own our sport and i think its great that we have the courage and foresight to grow our sport.

        *for clarification when i say grow i don’t mean pander to the usa.

        • If I want an iPad instead of a book change=growth is fine. If I want to share the joys of watching and playing hockey with my children and my children’s children then change is breaking the bonds between the game I grew up with and loved and the game my children are growing up with and hopefully love.

          Tradition.

          When you’re talking about technology it’s a dirty word. When you’re talking about a social and cultural entity it is the tie that binds.

          • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

            to understand properly…rule changes are bad, except certain ones (no touch icing)?

            i don’t want to be watching a twisted version of the game i love with my kids in the near future either but i am willing to watch an slightly altered and even possibly faster, more exciting version.

            its all your perception of what is perfect in the game and why it shouldn’t change and my perception of things i will let slide.

            i’d venture to say there is no right or wrong to this discussion just one guy is wearing glasses and the other guy has 20/20 vision, different viewpoints…different eyeballs.

          • I actually never said that I agree with no touch icing. I said, “I get why they would want to go with no touch icing.” Not the same.

            I like the discussion, but I am firmly on the side that says “this discussion should never get past the what-if stage”

            Equipment changes? Yes. Rule changes? Can we change equipment first?

          • the fact that we have taken this long to make the necessary changes to equipment is boggling.

            hopefully some fresh minds in the NHL offices will help expediate the process.

            i am firmly on the side that believes what-if could lead to sure why not.

            you wanna be the hatfields or the mccoys?

          • Chris.

            You like tradition? So do I. Full 2 min penalties (just like during the golden age of hockey) and get rid of coincidental minors (rule 19).

            Rule 19 was introduced into the league for the 1985/86 season as an attempt by the league to keep the Oilers from obliterating scoring records… Basically, the Oilers were completely unstoppable 4 on 4. If the league wants more scoring, it’s simple: reverse a great injustice. Eliminate a gimmicky rule change imposed during MY Golden Age of Hockey.

  • Bob Cobb

    Allowing hand passes in all three zones, the Rouge Point in the CFL and the Participation ribbon…..what are three things that shouldn’t be in sports?.

    All three penalize players that have skill and create compensation for sucking by rewarding individuals with athletic inadequacies.

    FYI…I usually got the Participation ribbon when I was younger, it doesn’t make you feel better, you feel like saying “I know I suck, I came in last but thanks for pointing out my inferiority to the general public”.

  • positivebrontefan

    I like some of the changes suggested however changing a rule because one team is to good is a showing of sour grapes for all the other GM/Owners. If the Oilers or Montreal were too good, step up your game, don’t change the rules. Eventually all the teams adjust to the rules and you are looking at changing the rules to “correct” another “unfair” advantage.
    I agree with Arch on this one. Stop ^$%*&@# with the rules already. And if you don’t? Don’t blame the refs for not getting the right call every time because they can’t keep up with the changes.

  • @Archaeologuy

    I see your point, but other sports do review and change their rules from time to time. Thinking of soccer in my short playing career, I played through at least one major rule revision that started at the FIFA level and that sport has a much shorter rule book than hockey.

    I do agree about major shifts, own your sport and try not to change the spirit of the game; but no touch icing sure looks like a no brainer to me.

    • I get why they would want to go with no touch icing. Big players at top speeds colliding into a wall is a dangerous situation. I’m just giving my impression on rule changes in hockey.

      They seem to come so often that it really bothers me.

      Maybe I would be less opposed if it didnt seem like a constant process. Even if they decided to only review rules every 4-5 years I might be less inclined to get my hair raised on the subject.

      I would be 10x more ready to address all the league’s scoring issues if they first forced all NHL Goalie equipment to match the dimensions from the 1980’s and all the health and safety concerns if they first forced all hard plastic equipment to be softer padding.

      We can put a man on the moon, we can create goalie equipment that is both safe and the same dimensions as the old stuff. Same goes for skater protective gear.

  • @Archaeologuy

    I’m with you 100%. I have no trouble with changes that make players safer (i.e. player equipment or no touch icing) or make enforcement easier (more cameras or an extra line in goal). I do, however, feel that the three centre face off dots is a gimmick to justify the existence of research and development and to keep hockey trolls like us paying attention in the dog days of summer.

    Hopefully the smrt people in the NHL office think so too.

  • ntrprtr

    Player safety has to be the priority, no question, and that leads me to wonder why it is alright for one player to try to rip the helmut off of his opponent during a fight. I spent many years as on on ice official and in my day if a player used any part of the opposition’s equipment to gain an advantage or inflict injury then that player received a match penalty that included a 5 minute major and game misconduct, along with a possible suspension. A helmutless player falling to the ice during a fight runs a huge risk of suffering head trauma so why is this practice acceptable in the NHL?

  • Chris.

    I don’t like talk of elimenting the trapazoid as we will be right back to pre lockout with the defencemen holding up the forwards at the blueline or at least getting in their way so the goaltender can make an oulet pass… right now you have it so the defencemen have to turn and go after the puck creating a race for the puck and a good forecheck oportunity.

  • book¡e

    Verification line…Not a fan, it doesn’t work unless the puck is perfectly horizontal. Reliance upon it would probably result in FEWER real goals counting.

    If you want better goal reviews, put more cameras in the net and integrate more technology.

  • book¡e

    Shootouts

    Yay 5 Players

    Boo repeat players – It’s WAY better when some grunt who never gets to play in the shootout games gets the opportunity to be the hero. You get more crazy stuff happening as well.