There’s not much wrong with hockey, but why not explore ways to make it even better? Here are 46 alterations that have come up over the past 13 years, some implemented, some rejected and some pretty far out there.
In 13 years as Editor-in-Chief of The Hockey News, I’ve made a ton of suggestions on how to improve the game. You’d almost think I didn’t like it.
The truth is, I feel it’s part of my job to help stimulate conversation and debate. While hockey is still pretty darned fantastic, nothing is perfect.
What follows is a list of various things I’ve suggested, conceived, advocated or supported during my baker’s dozen years in my ivory tower.
I’ve added some comments, in parentheses, about how things played out (a few of them have been implemented), or how my feelings might have changed or strengthened.
Feel free to chime in with why my ideas are crazy, why you like them, or new concepts of your own.
1. Shorten the season. Seventy games would do nicely. (I still like this notion – less would be more. I also know it will never happen).
2. Home teams in white. Provides more visual variety for season-ticket holders. (I think I’m finally used to darks at home. Of course, a change now might drive more jersey sales).
3. More 4-on-4. Maybe the last five minutes of regulation? (Might stem the number of games that go to OT).
4. Divisional playoff format to intensify rivalries. Bring back the Battle of Alberta! (Done. Thanks).
5. Names on referees’ sweaters. I don’t want to work too hard when it comes time to bash them. (Never liked it when they were removed).
6. More teams in playoffs. Two-thirds feels right. (I’m still in the minority on this one).
7. Stricter punishment for fighting. Not to eliminate it altogether, more to dissuade goonery. (Altered my view on this. See No. 40).
8. More teams in Canada. The Great White North drives the revenue train. It only makes sense. (Hello Winnipeg. And Quebec?)
9. Bigger nets. With bigger players, bigger gear and better technique, the scoring area has drastically reduced over the years. (I’ve been advocating this since I had hair).
10. Improve odds in draft lottery. To discourage tanking. (Check).
11. Change the penalty for puck-over-the-glass. It’s akin to icing the puck, so why is the punishment so punitive? (Why?)
12. Weekend trade deadline. To give more viewers the chance to watch the drama unfold. (A lead into Saturday night games!)
13. Change the All-Star Game format and/or voting procedure. Too many ideas to list. (I’ve grown bored of this debate).
14. Institute a head shot rule. Concussion reduction is paramount. (Better late than never).
15. One international tournament every four years. We need a World Cup, like soccer. (Welcome back, World Cup).
16. One-minute penalties in regulation time for select transgressions. Not all minor infractions are created equally. Like puck over glass. (How is this the same as an elbow or a slash)?
17. Win the right for first overall pick. Have a tournament for the non-playoff teams. (Radical, yes. Fun? Probably).
18. Make no trade clauses tougher to get in the next CBA. Only long-time vets should be eligible. (Would make the trade deadline even more frenzied).
19. Stiffer drug testing. Lots to gain, little to lose. (Could be even stiffer still).
20. New name for Lady Byng Trophy. It’s a worthy award, but the handle is not real manly. (How about Sir Poise?)
21. Obstruction crackdown. Period. (For real this time).
22. Five shooters in shootout. It’s over so fast with three. (Or just delete it. We’ve grown weary).
23. Mandatory visors. Everyone has a stake in this fight. (Trending towards the inevitable anyhow).
24. Women in the Hall. It’s the right thing to do. (Boom, done).
25. Increased consequences for penalties called in final two minutes of a game. How is a minor worth two minutes if it’s called with eight seconds remaining? (Add time on like they do in soccer).
26. Prohibit hand passes in the defensive zone. Why are they allowed there and nowhere else? (No, really. Why?)
27. No-touch icing. Safety supersedes excitement. (We’ll accept hybrid).
28. Allow two-line passes. Open up the game. (Strike it off the list).
29. Smaller goalie gear. Provided the stoppers remain protected. (A no brainer).
30. Increase draft age to 20. Players still have miles to develop at 18. (Won’t happen, but it should).
31. Introduce a defensive-defenseman award. (Eliminate the Erik Karlsson factor).
32. Wider bluelines. I liked Bobby Smith’s concept. (Maybe for another day).
33. Referee abuse crackdown. No one likes a whiner. (It’s gotten better over the years).
34. Change game-winning goals criteria. Give it to the player who puts his team up for good, not the guy who scores the fourth goal in an 8-3 drubbing. (Only makes sense).
35. Don’t limit assists per goal to two, but eliminate phantom assists. Only count ones that really set up a goal. (This NYR play from Thursday night, for example, deserved four assists).
36. Modify hard-capped shoulder/elbow pads. (Heads more important than tails. Or shoulders).
37. Eliminate a plus or minus when goalie is pulled. (A small tweak, but they can’t all be revolutionary).
38. Calculate power play efficiency on actual time with the man advantage, not number of chances. (Thanks, analytics crowd).
39. Eliminate singing of anthems before games. Keep it after games at the Olympics, though. (Not a popular idea, but there’s already too much nationalism).
40. Automatic ejection for fighting. (The time has come).
41. More awards for playoff performances. (We only have one for the most important time of the year).
42. Referee in press box. (Used very sparingly).
43. Give non-offending team puck possession following stoppages in play. (Why give offending team 50 per cent chance of getting possession after they’ve forced a whistle?)
44. Play WJC at Olympics. If the NHL doesn’t want to send its best to South Korea, bring back the amateurs. (We all love the enthusiasm of that tournament).
46. Ditch the trapezoid. (Round peg, square hole. Or something like that.)