No Tweaking Allowed
James Mirtle (correctly, in my view) thinks that the league is searching for more goals (and fewer shootouts) in Brendan Shanahan’s “Let’s Test Some more Gimmicks” circus currently playing itself out in Toronto:
While most of those taking part were reluctant to classify the exercise as a search for more goals, the rule “rationales” given to media had “will potentially lead to more offence” next to many of the tweaks being tested.
Several involved making power plays even more valuable, with penalized players serving the full two minutes and penalty killers called for icing the puck.
I did not think the league needed more goals when dramatic changes were made following the lockout and I don’t think the league needs more goals today. But even if I did believe the game needed more offense, I certainly would not do it by increasing the value of the power play.
The league should be doing everything they can to reduce the influence of the officiating if only because they seem incapable of improving it. A recent book (Scorecasting) made a fairly compelling argument that referee bias was the most important factor in the home ice advantage. Does anyone want hockey officials to have more influence over the game? If Shanahan really wants to improve the product, he should seek ways to make the game easier to call fairly. Improving the officiating would improve the game.
The league may be “reluctant to classify the exercise as a search for more goals” that’s what it appears to be even though that is not really a problem. Player safety is clearly a problem but only a few of the “tweaks” address that problem.
Improve the officiating. Make the game safer. Leave the rest of it alone. Tweak no more.
Postscript: A caveat to “Leave the rest of it alone.” I’m perfectly willing to dump any number of the stupid changes previously wrought in the Bettman era. Examples include the shootout, the trapezoid, and the non-hooking penalties.