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NHL Competition Committee recommends changes

by Dan Rosen

NEW YORK -- The NHL Competition Committee met for five hours Monday and agreed to make several recommendations for changes to the NHL Board of Governors and the Executive Board of the National Hockey League Players' Association.

The Board of Governors meets June 26 in New York. The Executive Board meets July 16-19 in Pebble Beach, California.

The recommendations include changes to the rules for overtime, faceoffs after icings, amendments to the separation of the hash marks outside faceoff circles and increasing the size of the trapezoid behind the net.

If the recommendations pass the Board of Governors and Executive Board, the changes would go into effect next season. However, the five players and five executives who comprise the Competition Committee did not make a recommendation to expand video review to include goals scored off plays that potentially involve interference with the goaltender.

The players represented on the Competition Committee are Mike Cammalleri (Calgary Flames), Daniel Winnik (Anaheim Ducks), Kevin Shattenkirk (St. Louis Blues), Ron Hainsey (Carolina Hurricanes) and Cory Schneider (New Jersey Devils). The executives on the Competition Committee are Philadelphia Flyers chairman Ed Snider and general managers Don Maloney (Phoenix Coyotes), David Poile (Nashville Predators), Ken Holland (Detroit Red Wings) and Peter Chiarelli (Boston Bruins).

NHL Senior Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations Colin Campbell and NHLPA Special Assistant to the Executive Director Mathieu Schneider are non-voting members of the Competition Committee.

The worry among the group in the meeting is expanding video review in any manner could do more harm than good because of the accompanying expectation of getting the call "right" on what, by its very nature, is a subjective call.

"I think [NHL Commissioner] Gary [Bettman] said it best in the meeting when he said, 'Once we go to video review there's an expectation that we're going to get these calls right all the time,'" Schneider said. "You can have two reasonable people sitting in a room watching the same video and have two very different opinions on that video. It becomes, like Gary said, very complex. The feeling is right now we're not at the point where we could get a meaningful video review that would have a 100 percent outcome."

Campbell said the topic of video review on potential goalie interference plays will be discussed again by the general managers during their meeting in New York on Wednesday. He also said they will further discuss other forms of video review to potentially include a coach's challenge.

If there is still no consensus on video review for goalie interference plays, Campbell said the League will provide more education in the form of video examples to the players, officials, media and fans about what is and what isn't goalie interference before next season. Campbell and Schneider said education about the rule will be paramount in the future.

"I know we're in agreement as to what the rule is in the book and how we view it, but I think the education process is what's going to be most important for the officials, for the players," Schneider said. "The education process is going to be key, and to have certain telltale signs. When you used to hear Brendan [Shanahan] talk in his video explanations — telltale signs of what was a legal or an illegal hit -- I think we need to do that same thing for goaltender interference."

As an example for the debate, Schneider said the room was divided when it discussed Los Angeles Kings forward Dwight King's goal in the third period of Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final.

King's goal was allowed to stand by referee Dan O'Halloran despite complaints from New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist that he was interfered with on the play and was not allowed the proper room in his crease to make a save.

With no element of video review allowable, O'Halloran's call on the ice stood.

"We've talked in our [situation] room in Toronto many nights and we'll debate it ourselves, [and] we'll disagree," Campbell said. "No, the defenseman didn't push him in. Yes, the defenseman did push him in. No, the puck wasn't past him. Yes, the puck was past him. No, the goalie's embellishing. No, this goalie plays deep in his crease, the player can come in there, there's some blue paint available."

The Committee, working off recommendations made to it by the NHL general managers, is recommending that overtime rules be changed to require teams to change ends after regulation in order to foster the long-change element which exists in the second period.

In the second period, teams have to defend the goal furthest from their bench. Historically, there have been more goals scored in the second period of games because of defensive breakdowns and difficulty getting tired players off the ice because of the distance they need to travel to make a line change on the fly.

In addition, the Competition Committee is recommending the arena ice crew dry scrape the ice before overtime. The goal is to give the players clean ice to play on during the five-minute overtime session. Currently the ice crew does a dry scrape before a shootout.

"The theory is to increase goal scoring within regulation or 4-on-4 -- trying to not allow teams to play to get to the shootout is the goal here," Schneider said. "We're trying to end more games 5-on-5 or 4-on-4 in overtime."

The Competition Committee is recommending the hash marks on the outside of the in-zone faceoff circles be extended from 3 1/2 feet to five feet apart, which is the dimensions used by the International Ice Hockey Federation.

"There's a feeling that this will create more offense, that forwards on a won draw in the offensive zone will have more time to make plays, more room to make plays," Schneider said. "On the flip side, it's going to reduce the amount of scrums that we have on faceoffs by separating those players a little more."

In addition, the committee is recommending that only one player is eligible to take a faceoff after an icing. He would be allowed one faceoff violation, but a second violation would result in a two-minute bench minor penalty for delay of game (Rule 76.6).

"What you're seeing now is a trend that's emerged that on the icing faceoffs, a winger will go right in there and crash right through to get the extra 10 seconds rest and then the center iceman will go in [to take the faceoff]," Campbell said. "The two-minute penalty is now in the books, but we are stressing that penalty should be called more often."

The trapezoid, which is now 18 feet along the goal line, would be increased to 22 feet along the goal line if the recommendation from the Competition Committee passes.

Schneider said the dimensions of the trapezoid along the end boards (28 feet) would remain the same, but adding two feet to each side of the net will give the goaltenders more room to play the puck.

"It will allow the goalies a little more room to go out and give their defensemen some help," Schneider said.

Campbell also stressed that the NHL will start issuing more warnings and fines to players guilty of embellishment. He said punishments could extend to coaches and the organization as well.

"We feel embellishment in the game is a real problem today," Campbell said. "We understand players are trying to draw penalties. We feel it's out of control."


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