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.

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?

  • paul wodehouse

    OgdenBroJr 10/19 you said…
    “go back to 2 line passes[to slow the game down]…”

    …my lord if that happened i’d maybe stop watching this better than ever game … i think that respecting the life and well being of another player should be somehow instilled in these dough heads by forfeiting a very large chunka change when they get really stupid…

    • justDOit

      They can, and the idea has been around a while. But the accuracy of the sensors is an issue, and anything too complex that’s built into a puck won’t last long. But technology might just overcome this in a few years.

  • a lg dubl dubl

    I’m all for the no touch icing, I like the race to get the puck between players but Id hate to see a dude lose an edge only to go head first into the boards possibly never walking again, It seemed to work in the Olympics if I’m not mistaken.

  • Lofty

    I havn’t read through all the comments but if 40% of goals are scored in the 2nd period because of the line changes, why dont they start the game on the far end and get 2 periods of higher scoring?

    Extra 10% of scoring by one simple change?

    Yes please!

  • DieHard

    I believe all hand passes should be illegal (except goalie) . Including the one currently allowed in your defensive zone. Your hands hold a stick … that is your tool. On the other hand, skates are also a tool and you should be allowed to kick the puck in the net.

    I also like the idea of referee communication. How many times do you see one ref up close to an event and something happens and he does NOT call a penalty (with eyes on the event) but the other ref much farther away does. The closest ref could utter no no as a signal that there was no infraction.

    No touch icing = BAD. Too many offensively planned plays can come from shooting from behind the center line. I could accept a hybrid that if you ice from your defensive zone then make it automatic but between the red and blue line – game on.

    • paul wodehouse

      …haven’t seen “this goal” in a little while but STILL when i see how this kid did it and how many things in it that coulda gone wrong …i shudder

  • justDOit

    And speaking of the Fox puck, I would like to see it’s return. Wait wait wait! Don’t flame me yet.

    Bring back the Fox puck, but NOT for the tv viewers – for the CAMERA operators! Make it easier for the camera operators to follow the puck, and the NHL product will look better.

    Canadian broadcasters have some pretty good camera people, but not all of them are very competent at following the play. And some of the US channels… yikes!

  • book¡e

    Foxtrack is so 1990’s. I want a puck that will not only sense that it has crossed the goal line, but also sends me a tweet “oooh, I just trickled under khabibulin in OT #Khabi sux #Oilers lose” and then immediately uploads a pov video of it!

    Get on it Gary!

  • justDOit

    Here are some potential rule changes… switch from 3 periods to 4 quarters, then convert the ice to astro-turf, then go from 6 to 11 players on each side, then change the puck into a football and play with 4 downs… oh wait, are we trying to improve the sport of hockey or are we simply selling out the game to gain a few more fans?

    In Bettman’s case it’s the latter and 90% of the proposals are proof of that.

  • O.C.

    Review games after completed. Suspend divers. Increased suspensions for frequency. Fine coaches teams players.

    Gregor… Smart, tired players pretend they didn’t mean to go offside. Not often, but there are times when that’s all you have for an option.

  • justDOit

    Not sure if anyone’s asked this because I haven’t read all the postings but that icing rule for SH situations. Gregor did you mean that if a SH team throws the puck past the opposing team’s goal line from behind the red line then they get an icing infraction called against them?

    • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

      Never should have made it legal to begin with, stupid forward passes are for wusses.

      Just do that and go back to straight sticks and no slapshots and all will be right in the nhl again. 😉

  • paul wodehouse

    I like the change on the fly rule. It is a rule used in the men’s ball hockey leagues. It is designed to reduce the amount of time between faceoff. A side benefit/detriment for teams is that if you get caught on a longer shift and can’t change you could have tired players out against fresh players. It’s just like the icing rule.

    I’m all in favor for it. For those that like to hard match lines it makes it a little more difficult. If Ovechkin is at the end of a two minute shift he isn’t much of a threat even against 4th line plugs.

  • Changes that might be implimented . Too many officials on ice for one , that impede play and add to congession watching game . Better helments that have full mask would help limit fighting to some extent , as well as concussions , cuts, etc.. Respect from players would grow with simple Dangerous play rulings and semantics . Pansy ass penalties should not be of two minute variety to begin with or maybe not even a penalty , like they are now that puts a team at player lost or on PK .Recoil space behind boards to allow for a leesened blow to those being rammed into them . Example a two foot straw buffer around rink . with glass, etc. being two feet away from playing area as well with perhaps a rubber cap sealing it all in .

    Officiating consistency needs to improve with speed of game ,and replay time/needs to be lessened with technology advances being made .

    Injuries to star players are becoming more prevalent as they are the ones that generally expose their body parts and movements to far, and are more excessability by doing so than average player – and thus are prey to those that will take advantage of those over exposed areas of their bodies . With such a long and arduous schedule and variance of teams these stars are now taking quite a toll in injury department over the course of a year . Being a star also puts an additional target on their backs , as most teams only have a couple of them per side . More protection such as quarterbacks for football have , might help in this regard .

      • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

        On the contrary – it’s to address dangerous play and bring out more hitting . The buffer zone is to allow cushioned hits along the boards as they are now and set back plexi glass in safer area without deterring from game . In other words recoil system in behind boarded area to minimize severe injuries . To encose it a rubber cap that buffer zone can funtion in (move and contract and expand ) makes perfect sense . Fewer power plays to limit the severity of pansy ass penalties only . Fighting will leesen somewhat , but to be honest most are a joke anyways . Hitting hoewever should increase – just not to vulnerable areas so frequently now as happens .

        Just so you understand rubberized cap system , it does not mean condoms to hold everything in place !!

    • Scuba Steve

      Really? You are suggesting a “two Foot straw buffer around the rink”?

      Will the luxury suites be in the chicken coop then?

      This is easily one of the best madjamian posts ever. “A rubber cap sealing it all in” Classic.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    I actually like the faceoff variation. We actually adopted it in our ballhockey league because of the fact that it ensures a fair face-off every time (no environmental variables at play).

    In terms of the verification line, that doesn’t solve the issue of the puck being on end, which is where a lot of the controversies arise from.

  • positivebrontefan

    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.