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EFFIE… Friends and fellow hockey lovers, this week the National Hockey League is holding it’s springtime General Manager meetings and out of the several items on their agenda, at least one has stuck out to me, perhaps two. The first one is a review of the newly instituted Coaches Challenge rule and how it has gone thus far, and a debate regarding refinements needed to streamline the process. On NHL Network TV and Radio this has been a frequent topic for debate between hosts and callers alike. Since this is the first season of the challenge rule, you had to know that after it’s initial placement into the rulebook that there would be a need for some adjustment along the way.
I am quite satisfied that the NHL, while taking the steps necessary to improve upon an already great product, is willing to look inward at all times and utilize modern technology when and where it can help make the game better. The challenge rule has mostly been good, but there have been instances thus far where a requested review of a ruling can take longer then the teams or fans would like. There is also much complaining about the small tablets the referees have been using at the scorers bench to review calls. The major complaint though has been regarding the instances where a review has taken over 5 minutes to ascertain whether a correct call was made or not.
Some fans have went on about this as if it was the end of the world. So naturally some thoughts have occurred to me and here they are; the league has went to this rule to eliminate incorrect calls! As good as NHL officials usually are, they occasionally need some help. Since it is protecting the integrity and potential outcome of a game, I am ok with it. If that means I am at the game/arena for an extra 5 or 10 minutes, so be it. Believe it or not, there are some fans who are quite a bit caught up in the actual time it takes to play a game! Yeah, it sounds cray-cray to me, but there are apparently many who have a tight eye on this! I’m not one of them.
The way I look at it is that I pay a lot of money to go to NHL games and if I get to be under the same roof with two actual NHL teams, coaches, officials etc, that is some bonus time buddy boy! For what it costs to attend a tilt nowadays, what exactly in the H-E-double hockey sticks do you have going on that you can’t wait to race out of the arena at games end? Or even before that? Are these folks the same fans that go to games and sit there staring at the electronic device in the palm of their hand the whole time? Why do you even bother going? It is apparent that your device is in total control of you! I’ll tell you what, give me the game, an OT period, a shootout and a couple of lengthy delays! A few extra minutes at an NHL experience with my son, daughter or grandkids? That’s priceless. This is a break from work and real life and I want it to last as long as possible!
The league will adjust and this will become a seamless part of the game at some point. Some reviews will take longer then others, and that should never be a consideration over getting the right call made as consistently as is possible. At least our guys aren’t going and hiding under some mini-tent while doing their work. What in the name of God goes on under there anyway? Have they got a direct line to Vegas to see how the review should go? Because that league still seems to get a lot of stuff wrong.
It also looks like technology will take another step forward as the league will go to some blueline cams to assist in the process of insuring the right calls get made. I am not certain of the placement position of such cameras, probably at the top of the glass would be the most advantageous position, but I have heard talk of cams being embedded into the boards as well. Again, this is a good thing and it appears that these will be in place for the start of this years Stanley Cup playoff tournament.
Another focus this season has been upon scoring, or the perceived lack of it. Most of the time I am not certain what to make of this. I once went back to some box scores from some Stanley Cup series in the twenties, thirties and forties. And you know what? I found a lot of scores just like today’s games! There were 2-1 games, 5-4 games, 5-0 games and the like. I think that’s called hockey. I started getting real perturbed when some people began to discuss changes that could lead to more scoring. The most oft talked about “fix” was to enlarge the nets. Are you serious?
I am dead set against changing ANY long held standards in any sport in order to appease some who think there is some kind of problem in their particular game. How about if today’s players have never been better or more efficient at playing defense? That could be it couldn’t it? And if you change that, what do you do, go to two sets of record books for scoring? Would the first player to score into an enlarged net suddenly be the new all time scoring leader? This is ridiculous! Leave the size of the net alone!
So now the “new” solution is to reduce the size of goaltender equipment. I say nuts to that as well. Look, I can recall the late nineties and early two thousands when guys where coming out for games the size of a VW Beetle. Equipment size has been addressed since that era. In order to enact a change of that nature I would have to think it over, goalies need to be protected and that’s that….
NEXT WEEK; Are the WILD in the SC or are they out? The answer might be a little clearer by then. PEACE