Big news from the GM meetings yesterday as the GMs nearly unanimously decided to go ahead with recommending an as-of-yet undetermined version of 3-on-3 overtime along with a coach's challenge.
Things have certainly changed in a hurry for the NHL. Only ten years ago did the league decide to scrap the two-line pass, and now they'll play overtime with fewer players than inline hockey games use. As for the coach's challenge, I kind of don't care what rules the NHL changes because they always change everything now and I have actually lost track of all rules. Hey, at least we'll be spared the theatrics of a baseball manager waddling slowly about the infield while his phone-bound assistant expressionlessly chews gum before giving him the secret sign, which was always a thumbs up. Be creative, guys.
"We’re not going to do something fancy like throwing a flag or setting off fireworks," said NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.
But if the competition committee and the board of governors approve the recommendation the general managers made Tuesday, the NHL will have a coach’s challenge for the first time next season.
It will be available in two instances: goaltender interference on scoring plays and delay-of-game calls when the puck goes over the glass.
In the case of goalie interference, the challenge will cover only goals and non-goals, not penalties. It will be based on contact with the goaltender, not crease presence. The referees will still use their judgment and make the final call, but they will look at video replays and talk to the hockey operations department in Toronto.
In the case of delay-of-game calls, a challenge can only remove a penalty, not call one. The hockey ops department will overturn a penalty call if video replays are conclusive.
A coach can challenge a call only if he has a timeout available. If successful, he keeps his timeout and can challenge again. If not, he loses his timeout. Reviews will be automatic in overtime. [Puck Daddy]
Get the call right, sure. I guess this is sort of splitting the difference between the NHL reviewing all the calls themselves or keeping the status quo. The upside here for the league is that any missed calls that go unchallenged are now the coach's fault, not the referee's, while the limit of one challenge means (we hope) minimal delays for reviewing every goal with traffic. My guess is that everything works perfectly because Gary Bettman is a modern-day Midas when it comes to making the NHL better for everyone. I guess Nicklas Grossman will be glad for the change, though, so that's something.
The bigger story is the looming onset of 3-on-3 overtime, which still has to be approved by the NHLPA and a "competition committee," which is a good ironic name for a band of a genre that hasn't been named yet.
This is the NHL in 2015. So while NHLPA representatives Steve Webb and Joe Reekie will arrive here Wednesday to address the managers, three-on-three in OT and the coach’s challenge will have to wait until the NHL-NHLPA competition committee meets in June.
That group will consider not a single proposal on a change to the current OT formal, but a choice:
1) A move to a format like that tested in the AHL this season, where teams play four-on-four for three minutes, or until the first whistle, then three-on-three.
2) A five-minute session with only three-on-three play similar to the format instituted by the Swedish Elite League partway through this season.
"The (GMs) are happy with either," said Detroit GM Ken Holland, an advocate of three-on-three for several years. "We think both are good solutions." [SportsNet]
Perhaps the most important people in all of this discussion, however, are the ones the changes will affect the most: the players. Would you be surprised to hear that Jhonas Enroth wants to keep the shootout around as much as possible? Me neither:
I think it’s good to think of a way to get less shootouts in the game. There have been so many of them over the last ten years," said Stars center Jason Spezza. "I am for looking for some kind of change to make a different way of deciding games. I am not sure how they are going to do it. I don’t think adding time to overtime is the way to go."
Stars forward Curtis McKenzie has some experience with 3-on-3 overtime. He started the season in the AHL, where there is a seven-minute overtime this season that is a mix of 4-on-4 and 3-on-3 play.
"I really enjoy it. It’s exciting hockey," McKenzie said of 3-on-3 play. "It’s still a team game where the shootout is more individual. I think it would be a good change."
Stars coach Lindy Ruff said he likes the idea as well, especially since there is a chance the game is more likely to be settled with the two teams still playing.
"For me, it would be a more exciting way to finish a game because you are still playing hockey, and there are still mistakes being made," Ruff said. "If you get a scoring chance where a couple players are in it, you are going to get a scoring chance going the other way."
Tapping the brakes on all this was Stars goaltender Jhonas Enroth, who wasn’t quite sure why the issue of reducing shootouts is even a topic of discussion.
"Honestly, I haven’t heard one guy that doesn’t like the shootout. Who doesn’t like it? I haven’t heard anyone who doesn’t like it," said Enroth, who is 6-0 in shootouts this season. "They are on their feet during the shootout. Everyone loves it. I am not sure why we are talking about this. It’s disappointing."
But Enroth appears to be in the minority, and the NHL could be heading towards a system with the goal of reducing the number of shootouts. This season in the NHL 147 of 257 games (57.2 percent) that have gone beyond regulation have been settled in a shootout.
So there you have it. The NHLPA may well nix 3-on-3 or at least mellow it out, but I would be shocked if they pushed back on the coach's challenge. The times, they are a changin'. Sorry, Jhonas. This is basically your trapezoid rule.
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What is your favorite rule change of all time? Mine is probably the institution of the forward pass or the requirement of wearing skates.
Our favorite beat reporter has a great piece on Shawn Horcoff that you should read. I am really fascinated with how Horcoff's tenure with the team has gone, as I was one of the people bemoaning that particular acquisition back in 2013. Now here we are with only 12 games left, and Horcoff is kind of awesome now (in his role). That's pretty cool. [DMN]
Josh Bogorad digs into the Stars home/road record and discovers that the team plays pretty similarly in both situations in all but one critical area. [On the Radar]
Mike Heika answered just so many questions yesterday, Read them all except for the one about "Norquist." [DMN]
3-on-3 overtime solves nothing and will never ever prevent a shootout, as proven by the Texas Stars' shootout victory last night. Jack Campbell had a great game, which is always good to hear. [100 Degree Hockey]
Andrew Shaw headbutted Brock Nelson last night and got the gate for it. Nelson wasn't exactly innocent, but that's a pretty ugly play. [Pro Hockey Talk]
Matt Fraser (the former Star of Seguin Trade fame) went down after being hit in the head by the Leafs' Nazem Kadri, who will have a hearing today for the hit. [Puck Daddy]
Phil Kessel called this year his "all-time low." Yeah, that's pretty bad. [SportsNet]
The Senators kept the Hamburglar train a-rollin as they pushed Andrew Hammond's magical record to 11-0-1 with a beautiful overtime goal last night. Actually, the highlights are all worth watching. [NHL]
Anders Lindback has a .930 save percentage since arriving in Buffalo. He backstopped the Sabres to a 2-1 victory over Boston last night despite facing 45 shots. As our fellow SBN blog puts it: HOW IS THIS HAPPENING. [Die by the Blade]
Florida came away from last night with their new emergency backup goalie(s). Here you can watch the final competition, which was set to some sort of weird pseudo-spaghetti-western-whistling music for some reason. [SportsNet]
Andrew Hammond has been granted free McDonald's for life. Too bad they don't have chicken selects any more, because those were like the only thing from there I would ever eat again. [Ottawa Sun]
No, I'm serious: Alex Ovechkin is a legend. [SportsNet]
Finally, there's another recommendation that came out of the GM meetings that Razor will surely be a fan of:
If approved by Competition Committee/BofG, next season instead of visiting team always having to be first to put down stick on faceoffs...— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) March 18, 2015
...the team on defence must put stick down first. So potential edge on faceoff goes to team closer to other team's net, not home/away.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) March 18, 2015