Let’s have a little bit of fun in bashing the NHL a bit shall we? Do not get me wrong, there is no better sport and I enjoy hockey as much as the next guy but there are some things that should be assessed by Colonel Bettman and his troops in my opinion so let’s take a look at my top 10 and some ridiculous and NHL issues.
1. NHL Officiating
As we have seen all of last year and even more heightened in the playoffs the officiating is off the wall. Since moving from 1 referee and 2 linesmen to 2 referees and 2 linesman the on ice officials have seemingly gotten worse, they have added instant replay to help these donks out to at least get the goals correct which I have no problem with. The refereeing is so bad now that many hockey fans are stating that there are actual conspiracies against their respective teams and I don’t blame them. Did anyone watch the Vancouver Canucks vs Los Angeles Kings series? I have never seen such dreadful officiating.
I’m not so sure we can blame the referees/linesman as I would assume they are out there clueless and have no idea how to call the game, in on instance they are calling everything and moving on to another period they let them all play and do what they want. Consistency folks, that’s what we are looking for here. Look at baseball, the Umpire will establish his strike zone and more less call that zone for the entire game, if he does not he will get managers/players beaking them face to face drooling slobber all over each other.
It seems the officials like to be the center of attention at times and I would enjoy saying to them “listen boys no matter what you do you will never be the sideshow Bob act that you want to be and will never supersede the players in any way or form so call the game properly” Heck a ref just retired this season after 20 years and I won’t lie in saying I have never heard of the guy before. Does that say something? That’s right, I pay zero attention to the referees and who they are because I do not care.
2. The Shootout
While many will disagree with me on this one I will stand by my thoughts and that is saying the shootout is one of the most ridiculous ways to decide an outcome to a game that I have ever seen. Since when should individual skills after a hard fought 60 minutes of hockey decide positions in standings let alone a playoff spot? Idiotic. Listen, I get it is exciting for some fans seeing this one on one battle between snipers and goaltenders but why not just save this gimmickry for All-Star games which are meant for individual skills rather then team play? How about we give a team that wins a game in regulation or overtime 3 points for a win, if a team loses in the overtime give them 1 point. Have a 10 minute 4 on 4 overtime period or even 5 on 5 for that matter.
Do we see baseball trying to speed the game up by having a home run derby if two teams are tied after nine innings?
Do we see basketball having a 3 point shootout or slam dunk contest to determine a winner after being tied after 4 quarters?
Do we see football having a field goal contest from the 50 yard line after the game is tied?
The answer is no to all of the above. All of the above sports are having no problems keeping fans entertained in their respective sports without using gimmickry tricks such as an NHL shootout to promote fan base and excitement. Drop the shootout.
3. Naming a goaltender a Captain
Are you kidding me? Quiet Lou they call him and they still name him the captain of the team. I think everyone including some Vancouver Canuck fans heckled the Nuck’s brass for deciding this and already they are considering changing captains plus Luongo seems unsure about the status. Once again this was yet another media hype to perhaps bring attention to the Vancouver base and start a media frenzy at that time, and it did. Now the Canucks more then likely want a new captain. Brilliant.
I am sure Luongo leads by example with his work ethic and his lectures for his team but let’s take a look at one item during a game. If the coach wants the captain to go speak to the referee about a call does he scream and say “Roberto, go talk to the referee about that call at the penalty box” Roberto replies, “Alain, I can’t leave my crease nor go past the blueline to speak with them can you get someone else? ”
4. NHL suspension rulings
This subject could be debated on and on forever but once again there is no consistency in decisions made on “suspendable” situations.
If there is a blatant attempt on injuring another player that player doing so should have the book thrown at him regardless if he is a repeat offender or not. Any penalty deemed attempt to injure should have a mandatory 5 game suspension or whatever they decide should be the set amount of games. If the same player keeps doing it over and over again well just write his name down in the little black book and if he keeps on doing it suspend him for the year or from the NHL entirely. Headhunters do not have a place in today’s game.
They complain about injuries to players yet they keep touch icing in the game. How many times have we seen players get injured when chasing down a puck after it was iced by the opposite team and then getting smashed into oblivion from an opposing player trying to beat the defender to the puck? Sometimes it’s intentional such as the Ovechkin hit on Campbell or the Wisniewski hit on Seabrook and sometimes it’s not. ( my apologies as I know both are against Hawk players but those were the first to come to mind) Take the touch icing out and just blow the play down immediately when it is iced.
6. Restricted zones for goaltenders
The NHL implemented this to induce forechecking and more scoring chances but it is still ridiculous. I think it was just something to take out great puck handlers like Martin Brodeur or Marty Turco and perhaps protect their priceless goaltenders from being crushed. If the goaltender decides to play the puck that is his prerogative and knows he may be hit, they should be fair game and heck they are mostly all big goaltenders with and additional 100 pounds or so of equipment on. It’s no different then a defenseman coming around the boards and attempting to play a puck and an opposing player going to hit that player. Take out those ridiculous little chunks of ice that are restricted for goaltenders to touch a puck in, it’s ridiculous.
7. Composite sticks
OK so these sticks are fantastic, lightweight and give you superior shot speed right? Al Iafrate had the slap shot record for 16 years until recently that record was broken by Zdeno Chara. Iafrate was 6’3″ and 190lbs. Chara is 6’9″ 260lbs. See what I am getting at? It all comes down if you can shoot the puck or not, sure the composite sticks may have more flex or what have you but come on now, how many times have we seen one of those sticks break if the player just attempts a lightweight pass? Either the manufacturers of these sticks figure out how to make these sticks more competent or go back to the good old wooden Sher-Wood sticks etc. These composite sticks break with a gentle tap from an opposing player and now it’s a penalty if the stick breaks! Dumb.
8. Playoff Seedings
How about the NHL go back to the top 8 teams at the end of the year in each conference to actually decide who deserves to be in the playoffs. Having a team win a division automatically gives them one of the top 3 spots in the conference, well let’s say that specific team wins the division with an under par winning percentage or even a low total point amount. OK so it is highly unlikely but not out of the realm of possibility. Why do we have divisions anyways? For the rivalry’s? Rivalry’s go year to year because they sputter out when one of the rivalry teams goes into rebuilding mode etc. Now you see more cross country rivals such as Chicago and Vancouver and less of Edmonton and Calgary. Get rid of divisions and just go to conferences, top 8 teams make the playoffs and all final standings and positions are just deserved.
9. Game Scheduling
Not much to say about this one but it is annoying, the NHL claims it is a big deal for teams for example Edmonton and Pittsburgh only meeting once a year because of traveling issues and how long it takes. Come on NHL you send teams over to Europe for crying out loud to start the season and you say travel is a big issue?
10. Puck over the Glass Penalty
Not going to elaborate on this one to much but how about we let the 4 on ice officials decide if it was an intentional clearing of the puck over the boards or not. Yes I know it is asking a lot from our “highly qualified” referees but in some instances it is not intentional and should not be deemed a 2 minute minor.
Any thoughts or arguments on the above issues? They are of course very debatable issues but some of these should really be addressed in some sort of manner. Especially the gimmickry! If you have any issues that you would like to be heard about please use the comment box below or email directly at TkonHockey@Gmail.com
Thanks as always,
About the Author
Written by Trent Kondo
An all around sports fan and has been a Chicago BlackHawks supporter longer then he can remember. Currently writes for Prosportsblogging.com on the Blackhawks and NHLHotstove.com on the Edmonton Oilers. (If you would like to email feel free to contact Trent at TKONHOCKEY@gmail.com )