“Because it’s a terrible idea,” Anaheim general manager Brian Burke said Wednesday as three days of GM meetings wrapped up. “That’s why it didn’t have any support.”
The league’s GMs liked the idea enough at the February 2004 meetings in Henderson, Nev., to include three-point wins on a list of recommendations for the board of governors. The NHL lockout put everything on hold and when hockey resumed with drastic changes, such as the shootout and the elimination of the centre red line for two-line passes, the three-point win didn’t make the cut.
Whatever support that existed for it three years ago is now gone.
“I was actually a proponent of the 3-2-1 points system a few years ago,” said Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland, meaning three points for a win in regulation time, two points for an overtime/shootout win and one point for an overtime/shootout loss.
“But since then we’ve seen these great races and I think it’s working just fine the way it is now. Our fans like it.”
Colin Campbell, the NHL’s director of hockey operations, says the game needs a breather from the constant change.
“It’s time to establish continuity, you can’t keep making changes,” he said. “Let’ s not confuse the fans.”
The original idea of going to three points came from European soccer, which adopted the three-point win system in the 1980s and credited it with opening up the game. That’s a notion Burke, for one, rejected Wednesday.
“They tried this in British soccer and everything I’ve heard is that it didn’t make a difference,” Burke argued. “Teams would get ahead and then would shut it down.
“I think our system is pretty darn good,” he added. “I think our game is good, I think our points system is good, our fans are just finally learning to understand it. And now we’re going to change it? It’s just dumb for me, it’s just dumb.”
In fact, aside from tweaking the instigator rule on Tuesday and making modifications to video replay, this week’s meetings were more about philosophical discussion about the game than actual change.
“I think we’ve had too much change of late,” said New Jersey Devils GM Lou Lamoriello. “It’s a good game, let’s enjoy it,”
Said Burke: “We made some radical changes when we came back from the work stoppage. The game is faster, the game is better, and the game is more entertaining. If something ain’t broke, there’s no reason to try and fix it.”
The league’s 30 GMs wrapped up three days of meetings where the trade talk was more prevalent than the actual league agenda.
“I have a better sense of the market now as I head home,” said Holland, actively searching for an impact forward. “The prices remain too high. Whether nor not we’ll be willing to pay that price next Tuesday at the deadline remains to be seen.”
The St. Louis Blues (Bill Guerin, Keith Tkachuk) and Florida Panthers (Gary Roberts, Martin Gelinas, Todd Bertuzzi, Jozef Stumpel) hold most of the cards on the sellers’ market and were popular targets from fellow GMs this week. They’ve got pending free agents to sell out as rental players, but they’re asking for the moon right now – first-round picks and top prospects.
“Unless the prices come down, we’re not going to do anything,” said Burke. “I haven’t been thrown anything that I even have to think about yet. It’s the same guys coming after the same group of young players and they’re not going for a rental. It’s that simple. If the prices don’t come down, we’ll probably sit it out.”
Vancouver Canucks GM Dave Nonis was in the same boat as Burke, wanting to make a move and yet put off by the current asking prices.
“The price, for us, remains too high,” said Nonis. “We’d like to do something, but it’s just too high right now.”
Blues GM Larry Pleau has a better understanding of the market ahead of next Tuesday’s deadline.
“We’ve talked quite a bit here,” said Pleau. “We have a pretty good idea of what we would like when it comes down to making this deal.”
While there weren’t any trades done this week, GMs felt the get-together was productive in laying the groundwork for next week.
“Absolutely,” said Boston Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli. “You know the needs more. You can take the next step when you’re face to face with them.”
Leafs GM John Ferguson believes the stage has been set for some moves even before Tuesday.
“I do still think you’re going to see some movement, a fair bit of movement,” said Ferguson. “There are a number of top guys on defined seller teams that just haven’t fallen yet. But I think that’ll come, and I think it’ll come soon.
“I think you’ll see trades coming on the weekend. Teams prefer not to get jammed right up to Tuesday.”
The Leafs are buyers despite being on the bubble in the East with Ferguson hoping to add a forward.
“If there is something there that makes sense for us – and we’ll pay value – but we don’t want to overpay,” he said.
Toronto has given away prospects and picks many times at past deadlines and Ferguson wants to be careful.
“You always have a temptation, and you weigh everything,” he said. “But going back over the years, this club is still affected by some of the short-term thinking that did not result in the success that we are looking for. That is part of what we are dealing with right now.”
A couple of players may be pulled off the trade market this week. Winger Fredrik Modin, for one, is very close to re-signing with the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Bruins are also trying to re-sign winger Marco Sturm. Both players are slated to be unrestricted free agents July 1.
One GM that left Naples disappointed was Jim Rutherford of the struggling Carolina Hurricanes. He tried hard to get something done here this week.
“It looks like the trades will go down closer to the deadline,” said Rutherford. “I was hoping to make a trade here, especially with the injured guys we’ve got, and we don’t have a lot of time left. But nothing.”