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Verification line, shallow nets ideas that make sense

by EJ Hradek
ETOBICOKE, Ont. -- What did I like from the first day of the 2011 NHL Research, Development and Orientation Camp? I like the ideas that make sense. And I have to say, there were a lot of ideas that made different degrees of sense during the first two sessions.

Let's start with the "verification line." That's a very dramatic phrase, huh? The verification line! For that reason alone, I like it.

By definition, the "verification line" is a line drawn parallel to the goal line, set back slightly more than three inches from the goal line. The reason it makes so much sense to me is it allows the League's video review team another way to judge whether the puck is completely across the goal line. How many times were we left scratching our heads about that in the past?

The answer to that question: too many.

A green verification line is seen on the ice, parallel to the goal line and set back slightly more than 3 inches (size of the puck) during the NHL Research Development and Orientation Camp. (Photo: Dave Sandford/NHLI)
The additional line would provide definitive proof on whether a goal had actually been scored. If the puck makes any contact with that line, clearly the three-inch disc is completely over the goal line. Good idea!

Shallow nets were another smart idea presented on Wednesday. To the eye, the nets look no different. In fact, one GM said he could tell no difference from his spot in the stands. In reality, though, they were just 40 inches deep as opposed to the current 44-inch standard.

The shallow net allows for more room to operate behind the net, it creates new passing lanes into the scoring areas and it allows for easier wrap-around attempts by attacking forwards. Makes sense, right? Let's do it!

Another no-brainer for me is the idea of the goalies switching ends for the regular season overtime period. If we're looking to improve the odds of deciding games in the four-on-four portion of the extra session, why not create the long-change situation that we see in the second period. According to the League's hockey operations group, over the past 11 seasons, 37 percent of all goals have been scored in the middle period as opposed to 30 percent in the opening period and 33 percent in the final period.

Actually, I thought they might implement that change last season when there was a real concern from the League about the rising number of shootouts. I don't know if it'll make the cut this year, but it makes a lot sense to me.

There was some concern about opposing goalies maybe ripping up the crease before leaving for the other end of the rink. No self-respecting goalie would do that, right? Well, if they did, I think you could solve that potential problem pretty quickly by slapping the offending netminder with a penalty.

I really like that the League is taking a good look at ways to improve the level of fairness in the faceoff circle. They tried several different tweaks during the two sessions. I thought the idea of having the same linesman dropping the puck for all faceoffs is smart. It brings a consistency to the drop. Players, coaches, executives and fans all like consistency.

While I'm not necessarily sold on it, I was intrigued by the idea of penalizing a center for a faceoff violation by having him move back to a second line drawn a foot further from the dot. That would leave him at a clear disadvantage for the ensuing faceoff. In this system, if you cheat enough, a center's faceoff percentage could be adversely impacted. As NHL Network analyst and former player Mike Johnson astutely points out, centers worry about that particular stat.

Finally, the decision to install curved glass near the bench seems like a wise move, particularly in light of the nasty Zdeno Chara-Max Pacioretty incident from last season. The curved glass would allow the impacted player to slide more, reducing the dramatic impact of a direct collision with the "turnbuckle." That idea is probably overdue.

On Thursday, we get a look at the "hybrid" icing and the "bear hug" rule (that would allow a player to wrap up an opponent when taking him into the boards). If they make sense, I'll be all for them. I'll have a better idea about that after I see them in practice tomorrow.

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