In yet another example of how I may be finally getting older (but not wiser), I’ve decided to forgo the tradition of an annual April Fools column (favorites from years past can be found here) in favor of some of my real and actual thoughts about my favorite sport. What follows are three items that I believe merit serious consideration:
1. Adopt the NHL rule regarding goaltenders handling the puck. This one is quite simple: during the off-season, paint the trapezoid behind each net marking the “Goalkeeper’s Restricted Area”. Give teams one season to get used to the change, and then begin calling two-minute delay of game penalties for netminders who play the puck behind the goal line but outside that area. If the idea is to prepare teams (and particularly goaltenders and defensemen) for the next level, this is an easy but effective move.
2. Eliminate the “bonus” power play. This rule has bothered me since its inception: a team about to go on a power play has possession of the puck, and a delayed penalty is signaled (and rightly so). The attacking team will invariably pull their goaltender for an extra skater since it is nearly impossible (but not impossible) for a team to allow a goal in this situation. Here’s where I disagree with the current state of things: a team which scores on the delayed penalty situation is still awarded a power play. This makes absolutely no sense to me. The whole point of delaying the whistle is to extend a team’s power play time; not to award a team two separate man advantage opportunities. With so many games decided by two or fewer goals, a “two-for-one” on a single minor penalty is too big a swing.
3. A player on the receiving end of a major penalty (contact to the head, checking from behind, etc.) should not be allowed on the ice during the subsequent five-minute power play. It seems to me that the time that elapses during that man advantage situation should be the minimum amount required for medical staff to complete the concussion protocol and assess other injuries. This change would also potentially deter players from laying on the ice longer than necessary in order to convince officials that a major penalty (rather than a minor) should be called.
As always, thank you for reading. I welcome your thoughts on these ideas as well as any other changes you would like to see. Follow me on Twitter (@DBergerHockey) for more information and insight. Here’s to hockey!