My wife looks forward to getting the Sears Wish Book. When our kids were young it was the perfect place to get ideas for Santa’s list. Now it is the signal to begin shopping and get ready for Christmas. Who cares if it comes out in September, it is never too early.
Every year I look forward to getting my official NHL rulebook. Before you call me a geek or a nerd, realize that it does change and part of my job is knowing the rules. The league in its wisdom highlights any new rules or changes to the old ones. This makes it easy to find rule 78.7 and rule 84.
Firstly I will talk about the coach’s challenge. The league says:
“This expanded video review is intended to be extremely narrow in scope and the original call on the ice is to be overturned if, and only if, a determination is made by the On-Ice Officials in consultation with the Toronto Video Room that the original call on the ice was not correct. If a review is not conclusive and/or there is any doubt whatsoever as to whether the call on the ice was correct the On-Ice Official will be instructed to confirm their original call.”
I watched a game the other night where coach Peter De Boer used his coach’s challenge against the Washington Capitals. The Sharks were ahead 2-0 when the Caps scored and Martin Jones was brushed as the puck went in. The goal was originally called a good goal prompting the challenge. After review it was disallowed and the Sharks went on to win 5-0. To me it was not conclusive that there was goaltender interference and the goal should have counted.
I am a proponent of the challenge. The coaches should be allowed to use the technology available to get the calls right. It is hard for the referees to judge whether an attacking player is pushed into a goaltender or is accidentally on purpose running him over. It is hard for linesmen to stand on one side of the ice and see across the length of the blueline if there is lots of traffic. Every now and then they will make a mistake. Again you should be able to use the replays and get the call right.
Rule 84 talks about the 3 on 3 overtime. Purists say it is not much better than the shootout. Only the top players will participate. Chances are they are right, but who cares. The league is in the entertainment business and it is incredibly entertaining. For those of us who have played in the NHL the three on three drill is a staple in practice. It is great for conditioning because there is so much room and requires a lot of skating. It forces you to make long, hard, accurate passes. It makes you concentrate on puck control. The old goalie in me feels for the guys behind the mask. They will look at more good scoring chances in the first two minutes of overtime than they will in the first two periods of any game. The Canucks went to overtime in two of their first four games. Last year they played 17 games into extra time and eight of them went to a shootout. League wide there was 306 overtime games and 170 went to shootouts. I would believe that this year the percentage of overtime games that make it to shootouts will be 20 percent or less. The three on three keeps every player and every coach in the game. There is strategy. There is, and I use this word purposely, teamwork.
The league over the past few years has made some superficial changes that have accomplished very little. These changes this year will have a dramatic affect.