Saturday, August 30, 2008

A beautiful day spent in the office

I've decided to be last blogger on the internet to take on Greg Wyshynski's "Five Ways I'd Change the NHL" challenge, so here it goes:

1. Bigger Nets
. I agree with Jonathan, let's make the nets smaller and wider by a few inches. It's not too radical for a league that has moved away from the stand-up style, Darren-Pang sized goalies of the 1980s. Watch any old game and witness the appalling amount of goals scored on weak shots that never leave the ice.

That said, in light of Mirtle's research into the downward trend of goal scoring, I think it's a mistake to get too caught up in goals scored per se. What's really at stake for a hockey fan is to know that their team can have a decent shot of winning the game when down 3-1 at the end of the first period, and a cursory look at winning percentage stats for a team when trailing after one period confirms that teams have a better chance of winning now then they did before the lockout (although the improvement may only be about 10 per cent for most teams) . And there are fewer penalties called per game than before the lockout, which is a good thing.

If anything's needed, it's a small tweak. The easiest tweak that wouldn't require major changes like bigger ice, permanent 4-on-4 (people who suggest this should be ashamed), or more flow-disrupting penalties would be bigger nets. It might tip the balance for teams on the attack (as with the case of teams trying fight through defensive traps late in the game) by having it 5-10 percent easier to score from difficult angles. I can't prove this, of course, but it makes sense to have bigger nets for bigger goalies. And while we're at it, bring back brown leather pads!

2. A common-sense standard for calling penalties. Aside from the the power play festival known as the "2006 NHL season," penalties have trended downward, but far too many penalties are still called over incidental contact. I don't think a player can't plausibly haul down an opponent with an extended one-armed hook, so why call it? Call penalties that actually impede movement. And too many defencemen fighting for position in their own zone get called for "holding" when using body position as a strength move (this is the NHL rulebook's term) to get the puck, especially when neither player has possession. And finally, refs should actually call diving penalties, especially anytime a player extends his arms into a swan dive after getting tripped.

3. Come up with a CBA that makes sense. The waiver wire rules are dumb when it comes to one-way contracts, the unrestricted free agency age is too young and punishes teams that develop young players (27 or seven years service) and the cap space exemptions for injured players needs to be less complicated.

4. End third jerseys.

5. Don't expand. I fully endorse another Canadian team in the NHL, so long as it's a move from a tits-up market like Nashville or Florida. The league already has too many teams.


Art Vandelay said...

I have no problem standing behind full-time 4 x 4.

It creates space and puts a premium on playmaking, skating, and shooting from open areas.

It's the same suggestion as "bigger ice surface" except owners don't lose any seats.

It's no less an insult to tradition than the Wack-A-Mole that now settles ties.

It would finally mean retirement for all the Clod Kadiddlehoppers who should be playing senior men's rec hockey, like Chelios, Hatcher, Roberts, Weight, etc.

It would render impotent most of the no-talent 3rd and 4th-liners, whose only contribution on most nights is to skate around at full speed on short shifts hitting anything that moves. To little effect other than to provide jollies for the roller derby crowd and usher in premature retirement for talented players. By the time the speed freaks had skated 50 feet out of position to run a puck-carrier, the puck would be up the ice and in the net.

Teams could focus on developing 4-man units: 2 scoring units, a PP unit that probably draws from those 2 scoring units, and a PK unit. 12 skaters. A couple of spares who never see the ice. And the two goalies. 16 players dressed per team. Don't see why the PA would object since they get a guaranteed slice of the pie. Fewer mouths to feed mean more food for the survivors.

That would hack, what, 60-90 guys back down to the AHL where they could develop their skils instead of getting 8 minutes of pinball time per game.

If there's a minor penalty, play 4x3. If there's a subsequent minor penalty to the same team, send the guy off and his penalty starts when the first penalty ends (consecutive punishment instead of concurrent).

Put a bullet in Wack-A-Mole. Play 10 minutes of non-sudden-death OT. And change the points system to 2 for a win, 0 for anything that's not a win. Stop rewarding Sutter hockey.

Stan the Caddy said...

I'd like to see the league set better standards for broadcasting. Afterall, that is where the league hopes to make their big money.

There needs to be a deadline that the league wants to have every game televised in HD. Maybe that's closer to happening than I think, but recenlty I've been frustrated by lack of HD broadcasts (perhaps Rogers is more to blame than anyone).

I'd also like to see the league make use of the SAP feature. Whenever I watch US TV they always mention that the spanish broadcast is available on the SAP. What about using it for a "sounds of the game" option where we don't have to listen to Greg Millen's lunacy. I know a lot of this is up to the broadcasters themselves, but I'm sure they're open to suggestions to improve their ratings.

That is all... for now

mike w said...

Art, I'm so close to kicking your ass right now.

This close. [makes a small space between his index finger and thumb]

No 4x4!

pete said...

It's no less an insult to tradition than the Wack-A-Mole that now settles ties.

My beef with permanent 4x4 isn't that its 'disrespectful' to the game's history -- it's that it would in effect create a new sport. Possibly an entertaining one, I grant you, but it gets away from what I define as hockey in a pretty significant way.

It's just as stupid as, say, baseball abolishing the shortstop and right field positions to drum up more gimpy singles/runs

Art Vandelay said...

Really? Removing a guy from the ice is that radical? They killed the Rover a hundred years ago. Let's just kill the off winger. Start with anybody named "Ruutu," "Nilsson" or "Sutter."

crapsie said...


crapsie said...

3 points for a regulation win. 2 points for a O.T./shootout win. 1 point for an O.T./shootout loss.

I absolutely detest that certain games are arbitrarily worth more points than others. I think that the NHL wants their audience to have a warm fuzzy feeling that "Oh well, at least we got a point." at the expense of representative standings. If you dish out the 3 points per game, you can keep the warm fuzzy and have standings that are truly representative of the teams' performance/caliber/ranking. And sitting on ties with 8 minutes left in the third would cease to be an option.

Can't change the nets. You just can't.

Bring back the brown leather pads.

Institute one reviewable play per team, per game. Coach throws an orange puck as close as he can to centre to signal to the officials he wants to review a play. If he hits the button at centre he is not even charged for using his review. Players can act as sweepers too with the blade of their sticks. It can be used to overturn, or create a penalty. A review costs a timeout. The throwing it toward centre is to prevent MacT from zinging it at Macgeough's (sp?) head.

Doogie2K said...

I can't dispute 2-5 in the slightest.

I will not stand for 1. I just can't do it. Sorry.

NotLeeFogolin said...

I like the league how it is. I think Gary Bettman is competent [gasp]! But I do agree with 4. Whatever happened to brand unity? It's not 1985, and Todd McFarlane was only a shareholder. So what?

LittleFury said...

Change the nets by bevelling the posts so they're more square than round so pucks hitting the post are more likely to deflect in and not out. More goals, the net stays the same size and you get the bonus of a satisfying "ping" right before the cheer.

Doogie2K said...

Change the nets by bevelling the posts so they're more square than round so pucks hitting the post are more likely to deflect in and not out. More goals, the net stays the same size and you get the bonus of a satisfying "ping" right before the cheer.

As someone who gave up two goals in one game to a soccer net designed like this, and had it be the difference between a 3-2 win and a 4-3 loss, I think this is a horrible idea.

As someone who hates seeing players "miss by that much", I'm all for it. Though I think goalies would adapt to it, in time.

DeeDee said...

1. I would be happy if they stopped rewarding mediocrity and got rid of overtime, period.

3 point win, 1 point tie. Make wins actually mean something.

2. Next, take all of the revenue for the game and put it into a pot, and give it all to the winner. Players contracts would be changed to a percentage of the pot. Lets see how they play when their paychecks are on the line.

Haven't decided what to do in the case of ties. Give each team 1/3 and do something with the remaining 1/3, like give it to charity or back to the fans or something.

cristobal said...

I had my go at this topic, then decided I'd rather build the KHL into the "league of tomorrow."

here's the address if you want to check it out:

cristobal said...

I cannot agree with the bigger nets issue. If someone like Ovechkin unseats Gretzky's records with a bigger net, it will cause Canada to induce world war 3. It says a lot that the goal-keeping in the 80's was poor. Does it mean Gretzky and Bossy and those that put up numbers at the time weren't as amazing as we thought? I don't think so. It does show they were unlike anything that existed before, and that is amazing enough for me. Additionally, I don't necessarily think high scoring games are inherently better than low scoring ones. But your point about Penalties is dead on. If a size is to change, i'd prefer it to be the size of the rinks. Olympic sized rinks could bring a lot of speed and scoring to the league. Give a guy like Kovalev or even Frolov a one on one with the goalie, and they can dominate percentage wise. Bigger ice, same size nets: but that's me.