TORONTO -- There will no longer be a dry scrape of the ice surface between the end of regulation and the start of overtime.
Using the ice resurfacing machines to clean the playing surface was implemented at the start of the 2014-15 season with the hope that cleaner ice would help improve the play during overtime. The general managers, at their annual November meeting Tuesday, decided the process was taking too long.
Starting Saturday, the ice will be shoveled by hand, as is traditionally done during television timeouts, according to Colin Campbell, the senior executive vice president of hockey operations. It will be the only ice-cleaning procedure after regulation. There will be no ice-cleaning process before the start of the shootout.
"It's one of the few things that has never worked out," Campbell said. "It hasn't worked out. It's not good for the fans, it hasn't been good for the players. We were trying to come up with good ice, and we were trying to have more completions in overtime. Results aren't great at more completions in overtime, and more than anything it was a killer for everybody at the end of the game."
Aside from the decision to scrap the scrape, the GMs discussed a variety of topics, mostly using the time together Tuesday to form an agenda for a more in-depth meeting in March. But eliminating the dry scrape did not have to be studied until March; the managers were convinced it was time to make an immediate change.
"The feeling in there was the dry scrape is a buzzkill," Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland said. "It is just taking too long to get from the end of the game back to playing, so we're going to use people to shovel the ice, try within 90 seconds to two minutes to get back up and playing."
One other immediate change from the meeting is Hockey Operations has been given the mandate to stop play immediately if it determines a legal goal has been scored but missed by the officials on the ice. In the past, the game would continue until a stoppage of play initiated a review. Now, Hockey Operations can initiate a stoppage of play as soon as they confirm the puck has crossed the goal line in a legal manner.
Other items will be further monitored, discussed and quantified by the general managers and their front offices as much as possible between now and March.
Three-on-3 overtime will be one of those issues examined in far greater detail in the coming months. The American Hockey League switched to a seven-minute overtime period this year, using 4-on-4 until the first whistle following three minutes of play, and then 3-on-3 for the remaining time this season. That format has resulted in far fewer games reaching the shootout in the AHL.
"I suspect that will be on our agenda in March," Nashville Predators GM David Poile said. "For me personally, I just need to get my arms around whether I want to increase the chances of a game ending in overtime, whether it be 4-on-4 or 3-on-3, or am I happy with games ending in the shootout. I want to see more American Hockey League games. I want to hear what the other guys have to say in the room and get some more data from the AHL, and I'd be prepared to vote in March. In two viewings of AHL games, I did like the 3-on-3."
Holland said he felt the other measure implemented for this season to increase scoring in overtime, making teams switch ends of the ice like in the second period, has had a positive effect to this point.
"I think the long change has been excellent," Holland said. "It is almost that the faceoff in overtime is so important because they are going to get into your zone and it is a long way to go from your zone to make a change. Saying all that, the percentages are a little bit up, but I think in my opinion there appears to be more scoring chances. I think overtime, the long change has added to the fan appeal of overtime."
Another topic for the GMs was the continued evolution of the use of replay. A focus in the meeting was goaltender interference, which is currently not a reviewable infraction.
Poile said he suggested the possibility of the officials using a monitor at ice level to review the play like referees do in basketball.
"We talked about the video replay a lot with goalie interference," Poile said. "Specifically, I brought up the monitor and whether that would be a situation that could be helpful. It was just me bringing that up. I think a lot of people had their points and nothing was decided today. We are all happy with where we are but we're not satisfied until we get all of the goals right. We're striving for perfection you could say."
Campbell said other options could be explored to help the officials in that scenario.
"It's a hard thing to really make perfect," Campbell said. "I think with the goaltender interference, if we're going to expand video review, people expect us to get it right and we want to make sure the process is right. Does Toronto do it? Do we do it in our review room upstairs? Is it a coach's challenge? Is it something that's viewed by referees in the penalty box on monitors? I'm not in favor of that, but that's something that was discussed. If we can make it better, we'll implement it, but it's got to be perfect almost when we implement it."
NHL Senior Vice President of Player Safety Stephane Quintal gave his first report to the GMs since assuming the role from Brendan Shanahan in September. One area he discussed was a slight increase in knee-on-knee hits at the start of this season.
Chicago Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman said Quintal wanted the GMs to be aware of the increase, but Bowman cautioned it could be due to a small sample size. It will be monitored throughout the next four months and revisited in March.