NEW YORK -- The NHL-NHLPA competition committee met Monday in the Big Apple.
League side: Flyers owner Ed Snider plus general managers Ken Holland (Red Wings), Don Maloney (Coyotes), Peter Chiarelli (Bruins) and David Poile (Predators).
And of course, chairing each side were NHL executive vice president Colin Campbell and NHLPA executive Mathieu Schneider.
The recommendations from the committee:
For the trapezoid to be expanded by four feet overall (two feet on each side of the goal line). That would give goalies more room to play the puck.
Changes to regular-season overtime: Have teams change ends after regulation to force long line changes, which in theory should help create more offense. They also proposed a dry scrape after regulation to clean up the ice.
Faceoffs in offensive/defensive zone: Adopt IIHF hashmarks, which are five feet apart (NHL currently has them three and a half feet apart).
The committee also wants more done to curb embellishment and diving in the NHL, perhaps via fine or additional penalty.
Kicking pucks: Committee wants to see more leniency and allow a bit more when it comes to kicking motion.
And the meat of it: More discussion of expanded video review, particularly when it comes to goalie interference. There was no real resolution on this on Monday -- simply the agreement that it will be further discussed.
These recommendations still need GMs' approval Wednesday, approval by the NHLPA’s executive player board and, finally, the NHL’s Board of Governors (owners) later this month.
BURNSIDE: Well, my friend, we are fresh from listening to top NHL executive Colin Campbell and NHLPA executive Mathieu Schneider explain that the league’s competition committee doesn’t think there’s any way to use video review to make sure there aren’t more controversial goals -- such as the one scored in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup finals by Dwight King when he quite clearly interfered with New York Rangers netminder Henrik Lundqvist but was credited with a key goal in the Kings’ double-overtime win. The rationale is that the league would rather re-educate the players and on-ice officials about what constitutes goaltender interference than implement video review of the issue because there’s no way to guarantee all the reviews would be 100 percent accurate. Schneider said Monday that when the competition committee met for five hours earlier in the day, they could not come to a consensus on whether the King goal was a good goal.
“How are we going to get it right without causing more problems?” Campbell said.
I must admit I find the whole logic more than a little flawed. Sure, these calls are not always clear-cut, and maybe video review won’t guarantee 100 percent perfect calls, but why not get as close to 100 percent as possible?
LEBRUN: To be fair, Schneider said he would bring the matter back for further conversation among the NHLPA’s executive board, while Campbell will have the league’s managers discuss it further at Wednesday’s GMs meeting. But you’re right: The tone of what Schneider and Campbell were both saying Monday at the news conference was that they don’t think expanded video review is as great an idea as people think. Personally, I don’t get it. Why not allow referees to watch replays on a monitor in the penalty box to make sure plays such as King’s goal on Saturday are made right. The goal should not have counted -- it was goalie interference. Referee Dan O’Halloran would have seen that on the monitor, and the right thing would have happened. I just don’t buy the idea that expanded video review complicates things. I give the NHL credit for being a pioneer of sorts when it comes to the replay system being instituted a few decades ago, but with today’s technology, it’s time to take the next step and get things right.
BURNSIDE: I understand all of this is complex. As Campbell pointed out, there are issues as varied as whether a goalie was embellishing a play, does he play deep in his net (like Lundqvist does) giving forwards more latitude to come into the blue paint of the crease and of course the activity of defenders such as the Rangers' Ryan McDonagh, who was battling with King in front of the net on the controversial goal. The sense from the competition committee is that they’ll be telling referees to err on the side of the goaltender in these situations next year, and then they'll be re-educating players about the plan, which is similar to the process that saw the new standards of officiating implemented after the 2004-05 lockout. But the technology is so advanced that it seems the NHL isn’t prepared to use all of the tools at hand to try to further reduce these kinds of plays. What did you make of some of the other recommendations the competition committee came up with?
LEBRUN: I really like the recommendation of increasing the size of the trapezoid in order to give goalies more room to play the puck. For years, San Jose Sharks GM Doug Wilson has been a proponent of eliminating the trapezoid altogether, but this is a bit of a compromise. I think defensemen take a pounding from opposing forecheckers when goalies can’t play the puck to help them out. This should help, and hopefully the GMs and NHLPA executive board endorse it. The long change in overtime is interesting too. Perhaps it will lead to an increase in odd-man breaks. Ending more games in overtime rather than the shootout is the goal here, which I’m in support of.
BURNSIDE: Oh, come on -- I know you love the shootout. You’re always standing and cheering in the press box when the shootout starts. OK, just kidding. I know you like the shootout about as much as the All-Star Game. I agree on making the trapezoid bigger, but I don’t think it has ever really done what executives thought it was going to do when they introduced it coming out of the 2004-05 lockout, which was create more offense off the forecheck. I think puck handling is a skill set, and goalies possess different levels of that skill set. To me, they should be able to play the puck whenever and wherever they want. But that’s just me. I like the idea of coming down hard on players who embellish calls, though (correct me if I’m wrong) haven’t we been having this same debate for about a decade? Wouldn’t it be a simple thing if, when a player embellishes a call, even if you just caught it after the fact (like other plays that end up being the subject of supplemental discipline), to just give him a game? And a healthy fine for the team (which has been discussed)? It wouldn’t take long before those kinds of ugly plays would dry up.
LEBRUN: Totally agree on diving, and I like the team aspect of the fine as an idea because that would create inner-pressure on the player in question to clean up his act. One of the reasons diving has increased in the NHL, I believe, is because of the sensitivity that comes with cracking down on infractions, especially head shots via rule 48. And there are times that players take advantage of that in terms of boarding and hitting-from-behind plays by selling the call to get the penalty.
We’ll see how the GMs feel about this come Wednesday.