Hockey

Hypothetical: 1 NHL Rule Change (Part 1)

While attending university, I had the privilege of studying at the School of Sports Administration at Laurentian University (aka SPAD). In my 4 years, there was one quote that stuck with me: “When considering what and what not to change about your sport and it’s product, you should always remember that you never want to touch the core of your product, just the ancillary parts of it.” 

So we discussed how the NHL moved the player number stickers on their helmets’ to the front so the TV audience could better identify players. However, the sport of Hockey itself, outside of the adoption of the forward pass, has for the most part remained constant.

That being said, let’s have some fun! Let’s pretend the NHL gave me the power to make one Rule Change. For this we need to jump back to two moment to put this all into context. 

  1. I’m not a Baseball guy but my roommate in university was a huge Jays fan, so why not? Still not my cup of tea, but I appreciate the skill required. He taught me a lot about the game but I want to highlight one aspect:

Huck (nickname) explained that every Diamond is unique so each field is a different size and Owners/GMs build their rosters with players who strengths best fit the dimensions of their field. 

  1. When the Red Wings first unveiled the Dough Joe (google their Arena for that pun), Brian Burke was on air and brought up how the new arena had the infrastructure to be able to expand it’s ice surface from a NHL to Olympic size rink. He also said that there were other NHL teams with similar infrastructure.

I may owe Burky some, if not all, of the credit. But what if the NHL adopted the MLB’s strategy of creating Guidelines for Rink Sizes? 

Ignoring the obvious monetary investment for this, let’s make the current 200 x 85 the smallest scale and Olympic size rinks (200 x 98.4) as the max. For the purpose of this article let’s go all in and allow for adjusting the Blue Lines and Goal Lines as well. All things being equal we will leave the trapezoid in, but imagine Carey with no trapezoid.

I understand that’s a lot to digest but, after the Habs I immediately thought of the Flyers and the reincarnation of the Broad Street Bullies. That being said, imagine the absolute artistry we would see on the larger ice with McDavid/Draisaitl, MacKinnon/Rantanen or Barkov/Huberdeau…shivers. 

Yes I know Sid and Gino aren’t there, they are too good to be restrained to any one category, plus give the young kids their due.

Beyond the size of the ice surface, if you controlled the size of each zone you can now decide what style of play you want to build your team around. For example:

  1. If you want to be a fast, puck possession focused team with an emphasis on Special Teams; Olympic Size Rink, max size zones (bring the Blue line as far out to the Red Line as possible), push your Goal line to maximize space behind the net aka Gretzky’s office.
  1. If you want to be the fastest team in the league and generate offense off the rush; Olympic Size Rink, max size Neutral Zone, push the Goal line and giddy up.
  1. If you want to be somewhere in between; Olympic Size ice, bring the Blue Lines out 60%-70% so you can keep pace but beat up the other team in the corners.

I am more of a dreamer than coach and that’s the beauty of this idea, there are so many different possibilities, some of which you may have caused you to yell at your computer. As a Habs Fan, I would think that the ideal rink size would be Olympic size, push the Neutral zone to like 75% of the max size. Finally, I will lean maximizing the size behind the net because most breakouts start with Carey anyways so hope he can get to the puck and rely on our forward’s speed.

Disagree? 

Habs fans, what sort of ice surface would you have? 

What other team would you be excited to watch? 

If you are a fan of another team what ice surface would you like to see?

Final hypothetical

If this rule existed since the NHL’s inception, would the Habs have +/- 24 Stanley Cups? 

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