This week's Big Question: What changes would you make to the game and why?
Brendan Gallagher, RW, Montreal Canadiens: "Take out the goal crease. That would be more fun for a guy like me, it would help my game. Wait a minute, our goalie wouldn't like that. Let me rethink that. Let's make the nets bigger. Because he will still be able to stop pucks and we'll be able to put more in."
Ryan Getzlaf, C, Anaheim Ducks: "One thing that we need to do a little bit of a better job is that coach's challenge and a way to speed it up a little bit. I feel like a lot of times we're waiting at the bench to see if they're going to challenge and it ends up taking so long. The other night in Detroit, it went in our favor; it's not like we got screwed on it, but they went and looked at it, then we challenged it, then they went back and looked at it. That part of it slows things down for me, and I really don't care for it."
Ron Hainsey, D, Carolina Hurricanes: "I would mandate that the coaches only coach offense, not defense, however you can do such a thing. If that means giving coaches 10-year guaranteed contracts and rewards for goals, so be it. Something like that: Huge money incentives in coaching contracts for goals scored. Let's go with that."
Ian Cole, D, Pittsburgh Penguins: "I'm not a big fan of the puck-over-the-glass penalty. I think it should be similar to a puck in the bench -- if a guy has a puck and turns and fires it into the bench, it'll be a penalty. If a guy turns and rips it over the glass or purposefully skates and chips it over, I think there's some way to make a discretionary call. I realize the league wants more goals and more power plays, I realize why they installed it. As a defenseman, there are so many times I'm racing for a puck, and I'm just trying to chip it out -- I go to whack it, and it just hits my stick and goes wooooop and just pops over. It's like, 'Oh, f---,' I didn't have anywhere near control of it. I take a penalty. That's what I think. I'm not a huge fan of that, but that's because I've been dinged by it a few times. That's where that stems from."
James van Riemsdyk, RW, Toronto Maple Leafs: "I'd like to see the rinks five feet wider. I got the chance to play on some wider rinks in college. We actually played on an Olympic sheet, which I think would be a little too wide for the NHL game. But we also played in some hybrid rinks [smaller than Olympic but bigger than NHL], and I think that extra five feet is huge; it gives you that extra split second to make plays, but it also doesn't change the integrity of the game. Guys now are so much bigger, stronger and faster that I think that extra room would help open things up a little bit more."
Eric Staal, C, Minnesota Wild: "I mean, the ability to try to generate more offense again. The coaches figure it out. You've got to change it up it seems like every five to seven years to try and open it up. I don't know if you maybe put the red line back in? Because it's a lot of stretching [using the stretch pass] right now, D to D and up to chip it in ... . Do you put the red line back in to make guys make more skilled plays, passing, stickhandling? Maybe that would be my answer, to put the red line back in and see what happens."
Cam Ward, G, Carolina Hurricanes: "As a goaltender, I kind to tend to lean towards the shootouts. It's tough. You love them when you win them, you hate them when you lose them. I think the 3-on-3 is exciting for the fans and if you're going to lose, I'd almost rather lose that way in a hockey play. And maybe the trapezoid for me. I don't see any benefit of it anymore. That'd probably be the first thing that I'd take out."
Braden Holtby, G, Washington Capitals: "That's a good question. You know I'm usually arguing the other way, I'm usually saying the game's good right now where it is. One thing to change? I'd get rid of the trapezoid, probably. For selfish reasons."
Ryan Suter, D, Minnesota Wild: "Hmmm, I don't know, I think the game is pretty good right now. Some guys have talked about the two-line pass [bringing back the red line], so that you have to have puck possession and you can't just blast it up the wall and get it in. I think that one is something to look at, to make it more fun for us [defensemen]. But honestly, I think the game is in a pretty good place right now."
Evgeny Kuznetsov, C, Washington Capitals: "If I say this, the coaches will be not happy. I will give you another answer. But the key point I will save. Probably delete the TV timeouts and make the games quicker, because the TV timeouts just kill the pace and sometimes you get PP ... or PK, guys don't play and then TV timeout and then top guys go and some guys sit like for minutes; it's pretty tough to be back in the game. Then you get couple shifts and then TV timeout again. That's maybe like for me, key point. I know it's huge money, but for me, I would like to play quick-quick-quick, you're always in the game."
Jeff Skinner, LW, Carolina Hurricanes: "I think the league does a good job of trying to find ways to tweak it without sacrificing sort of the traditional things. That's always, I think, the concern, when you're trying to change the game, trying to tweak the rules, you want to be able to keep the tradition. I think obviously the hottest topic is trying to create more offense. One of the things I've heard before, I don't know exactly how it'd work, but cutting the knobs off [the goalies'] sticks. That's not my idea, so I can't take credit, but it sounds like maybe it would open up some room. I think it's pretty frustrating when they [stop] the puck with the knob."
Ryan Johansen, C, Nashville Predators: "The seasons are too long. There's too many games. To win a game now at this level and the competition, it's an absolute war every night. If you're not ready for war and an absolute battle, you're going to lose. If you're not 60-minute ready, you're going to lose the game, it doesn't matter who it is. It doesn't. You're talking about the injuries and stuff. Every guy on our team probably has five minor injuries right now. Other than that, I think the game's pretty good right now. There's a lot of scoring. It's fast, skilled. Not a big fan of the shootout and overtime. It's frustrating for me when you lose a game in 3-on-3 because a rebound [creates a turnover] and a guy goes on a breakaway and scores. You play 60 minutes of smart, simple hockey -- where you're doing all the right things and it's tied 1-1 -- and then [in overtime] or in a shootout, somebody comes down and scores, and all that work is ended by that; it's kind of frustrating too."
-- Pierre LeBrun, Craig Custance, Scott Burnside, Joe McDonald,