By: Nick Lanciani
This week I present to you a short post on my thoughts on changing the OT format and the addition of the coach’s challenge, as well as a tidbit on the potential Las Vegas expansion.
Shootouts have got to go- at least for the most part, that is. The only shootout scenarios that belong in hockey are penalty shots and the breakaway skills competition (which on another note, the skills competition was a bit stale this year).
I get it, when the Chicago Blackhawks and the Pittsburgh Penguins meet up in a shootout, we’re all in for entertainment. Watching Jonathan Toews, Sidney Crosby, Patrick Kane, and Evgeni Malkin trade shootout goals while Corey Crawford and Marc-Andre Fleury stuff others is highly addictive.
But then we get long shootouts- like the one that went twenty rounds this season between the Florida Panthers and the Washington Capitals before Nick Bjugstad sent everyone home with his second attempt of the shootout, or basically every shootout the Boston Bruins have been in this season.
Please NHL, make it stop.
I’m all in favor of adopting the AHL’s overtime format that they began using this season. Overtime is seven minutes long, split between three minutes of 4 on 4 hockey and four minutes of 3 on 3 action (of course, the change between 4 on 4 and 3 on 3 isn’t technically done until the first whistle after three minutes of overtime).
If nobody scores in overtime, then the game heads to a shootout.
Personally, I’m a fan of simplifying an adaption of the AHL’s current overtime format and having ten minutes of sudden death overtime (5 minutes of 4 on 4, stop, switch sides, 5 minutes of 3 on 3). My format would eliminate the absurdity surrounding when teams make the switch from 4 on 4 to 3 on 3 and keeps the initial swapping of sides from the 3rd period to the beginning of the 4 on 4 overtime (and adds another swapping of sides between 4 on 4 and 3 on 3).
Ultimately, whatever reduces the number of overtime games that end up going to a shootout to about 5% (the equivalent of the actual effects of the AHL’s current overtime policy) is good enough for me. The league doesn’t completely throw out shootouts, but doesn’t have to rely on them more than necessary.
Another topic for consideration next season is the coach’s challenge. While this new addition would make sense for the league, it is nothing more than a procedural show that would slow the pace of the game way down.
I’d vouch for something similar to college hockey- simply making offsides, goaltender interference, and delay of game penalties reviewable. You’re probably saying, “but that’ll just slow the game down anyway” and you’re right. But this would take away the extra formalities of making the ref have to listen to what the coach is challenging, why he’s arguing, and so on an so forth.
Essentially, it’d streamline the decisions similar to how the refs and linesmen already confer when there’s a situation they can presently discuss amongst themselves (goals on the ice before they’re reviewed, delay of game penalties, and whatnot). Most of the time, if something needs to be reviewed, it gets reviewed. If not, then some off ice official steps in and makes the on ice officials take a look at it again (under video review).
Look, the coach’s challenge is just a way to drum up business, whereas simply making the plays in question (goalie interference, delay of game, and offsides) reviewable eliminates intentional stalling by a coach challenging the play at hand and ensures that for a call on the ice to be overturned or confirmed, conclusive evidence must determine the right way of the call.
As was seen in the Hockey East Championship this year, the refs went to video review for a play that was deemed a goal on the ice, but awfully close to being offsides. Video conclusively showed that the Boston University forward entering the zone was, in fact, just barely offsides, overruling the call on the ice and reverting the score from being 2-0 to 1-0 in the first period.
The entire process didn’t take longer than any current reviewable play in the NHL. So at the end of the day, if college hockey can make something look easy, then the NHL should be able to implement it seamlessly, right?
And after all, aren’t the purpose of the minor leagues, college hockey, and the junior leagues simply a testing ground for not only who teams draft and develop, but also the development of the game and subsequent rules of the game ultimately in the major league (the NHL)? If not, then- well, come on people…
This Week’s One Liner- VEGAS BABY!
Look, if the National Hockey League is sold on the results of the feasibility of an NHL franchise in Las Vegas, then fine- build an arena of about 15,000 and see how long it lasts- otherwise, if you’re looking to add to the Western Conference before adding to the Eastern Conference, for God’s sake Seattle is dying to get a team. Oh and so are Quebec City and Hartford, but you know… ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.