The two-day camp, which wrapped up Thursday, featured a series of experimental rule changes and rink modifications that the league wanted to test in a real world environment. The rules were tested during a series of scrimmages played by several of next year’s top draft prospects.
Some of the potential new rules amounted to minor tweaks, while others were radical changes. Most will never make it to a live NHL game, but that’s no reason not to spend some time looking back on what worked and what didn’t.
One of the league’s top priorities is to come up with ways to create more offence. For example, one proposed change would see the width of the blue line doubled. This would create more offensive chances, presumably as attacking forwards blow past defencemen who are busy saying “Hey, is it me or is the blue line twice as big as it was yesterday?”
The league is also experimenting with alternate placement of the faceoff circles. One proposal, expected to result in marginally increased scoring, would see all offensive zone faceoffs take place six inches inside the defensive team’s net. There’s also talk of creating more room at the end of the rink by making the nets more shallow, which would be accomplished by encouraging them to spend all their time listening to pop music and reading Twilight books.
It’s a good start, but there is room for more creativity. How about awarding one goal for any puck shot into the stands that KOs that fan who keeps standing up to wave at the camera while talking on his cell phone? And if none of those changes work, the league could always go to plan B — goodbye goalie water bottles, hello goalie tequila bottles.
The league also looked at continuing to restrict line changes. One new rule would see teams that went offside be unable to change lines before the next faceoff, similar to what happens now with icing. This change is expected to be popular with the many fans who find themselves saying things like “This game is OK, but I’d enjoy it more if the players were constantly vomiting from exhaustion.”
This ongoing war on line changes is expected to someday culminate with coaches having the option to disable line changes altogether, but only if the opposing coach gets up to use the bathroom and leaves his Xbox controller lying around.
Icing has always been a mixed blessing for hockey fans. On the one hand, races for the puck are exciting. On the other, exploding hip fragments can sometimes fly up into the stands and get in your beer. The NHL is trying to find a way to keep the former while minimizing the latter.
The answer appears to be a concept called hybrid icing, which is just like regular icing except it gets better mileage. Experts agree that it will cost twice as much and cause your insufferable granola-snorting neighbour to strut around like he’s better than you.
Finally, the league spent a significant amount of time experimenting with new formats for overtime and shootouts. They had a look at various creative ways to end a game that have never been tried before, such as “2-on-2 overtime”, “extended five-man shootout”, and “Edmonton Oilers victory”.
Who knows, maybe someday they’ll try something truly radical: Replace the traditional shootout with a brand new concept in which each team chooses five players, all of whom take to the ice and attempt to score a goal at the same time as if they were playing actual hockey and not some glorified skills competition.
In any event, its nice to see that the NHL is willing to experiment. If nothing else, all of the strange rules and modified rinks gave fans an opportunity to see things they will never see again.
Like 2011 draft prospects playing in Toronto.