14 November 2009
Let's hope that over the next several General Manager's meetings that they all keep in mind that they are GMs for National Hockey League teams and not Arena Football League teams.
One topic at this year's meeting for discussion was the possibility of changing the rule with regards to when a puck hits the netting on the high glass behind the goaltender. After a young Columbus fan was struck and killed by a puck flying over the glass and out of the offensive zone, the NHL mandated that these nets be placed at each venue. The rules were made that if the puck hits the net, which means it would have gone out of play, that the whistle would be blown and there'd be a faceoff.
But coming out of the lockout, the NHL wanted quite badly to open up the offense and get more scoring and thus, more excitement, into the game. Rule tweaks and reinforcements have helped open the game up compared to the seasons leading to the lockout. But always looking to do more, rumors of keeping the flow of the game moving and keeping offenses in the zone longer led to the talk of letting the puck bounce off the netting and stay in play.
Many fans are rooted in and greatly appreciate the deep history of the game of hockey and do not like to see pieces of their game tampered with. Even non-game play related components such as certain jerseys for certain teams fans do not like at all to see touched, just ask Sabre fans.
So if that is the case, why would the NHL even consider this option? Let's keep in mind that had a young girl not unfortunately lost her life, that those nets wouldn't even be there and this wouldn't even be a topic. This idea now is ridiculous enough as it is, so there's no way the NHL would have ever considered putting the nets up on their own for the whole "rebound effect" idea. The nets are up there for protecting the fans, not for assisting the offensive team, and let's keep it that way. If they want to increase offense using protective devices, why don't they put cans of mace on certain player's shoulder pads? Nothing like one guy getting an unofficial assist for blinding the goalie while his teammate puts it in from the half boards.
I don't want to see teams shooting the puck 80 feet into the air to "high dump it" off the net so they can go make a line change. While the NHL is at it, they should also consider adding a basketball hoop in the middle of the nets, that way teams can shoot for the hoop for additional, non-play stopping goals if they make it in.
Tightly strung rebound nets work for the AFL, that was an original part of their design. It doesn't work for the NHL, it is a terrible idea that would ruin the tradition of the game and credibility of the league.
This isn't an idea that will probably fly too well with the GMs, but Bettman wants offense, and lots of it, and wants to open up the game as much as possible to make it more exciting. So even if 30 GMs are saying no, he'll still sit in his office and shove it down their throats for as long as he can until they give in. Let's just hope someone realizes that using this tactic to open up offense would also open up a great deal of seats in each arena, because people would stop going to the games. Doing this would turn the entire NHL into a Harlem Globetrotters like offensive circus.
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