When the NHL announced it would be adopting a dry scrape of the ice before the overtime period, it flew in the face of all the gains it had made since the 2004-05 lockout. Ever since then, the league had been obsessed with the flow of the game and keeping things moving along. Then to try to reduce the number of shootouts, it ground everything to a complete halt with the dry scrape.
Well, the scrape was scrapped yesterday when the GMs voted unanimously to get rid of it. The new rule, which will see two Zambonis replaced by good, old man and woman power behind shovels, will come into effect for Saturday’s game, meaning the dry scrape was an experiment that will have lasted a total of 294 games.
“The air came out of the balloon,” said Calgary Flames GM Brad Treliving. “You’re going into overtime and you’ve got a tie game and all this energy in the building and you had this dead time before you started overtime. It was just a complete buzzkill.”
NHL vice-president and director of hockey operations, Colin Campbell, said the league was experiencing delays of anywhere from four to 6 ½ minutes for the dry scrape. In comparison, he said the ice can be cleaned with shovels in the time it takes for a commercial timeout, which is about two minutes. The scrape takes a layer of the ice off, while shoveling will simply remove the snow that accumulated during the period.
“I know in our market in Nashville, when they put up that five minutes, that was kind of an ‘oh-oh’ type of a situation,” said Predators GM David Poile. “We lost a lot of fans for the overtime. I think we just did the right thing. We made the right decision to make that change back and no harm, no foul.”
Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland, who was behind the movement to establish the dry scrape, agreed with the decision to scrap it. "That was my bad idea, yeah," Holland said.
The GMs also made another change that will speed up the game. If the war room in Toronto that reviews every play determines that a goal was definitely and legally scored that the on-ice officials missed, it will alert the officials to immediately stop play. Until now, the goals were not reviewed until after the play had stopped on its own.
“When that happens, too much can happen after that play that we don’t want to deal with,” Campbell said. “A penalty can take place and that stays. You don’t want a penalty staying if the time was wiped out. That time is wiped out – it didn’t really happen, but it happened. Guy crosschecks a guy across the neck…if we can avoid that, we’re stopping play.”
Most of the other matters that were discussed were done so informally, since the November meetings usually serve as a precursor to the March meetings when the GMs break off into committees and delve into subjects more deeply. One of the subjects that generated lively discussion was video review, particularly when it pertains to goaltender interference. Campbell said there are still too many landmines in the issue for the league to move ahead too quickly.
“The point I made was if you’re going to go on video review for goaltender interference, then you’d better spend a few days (and define it),” Campbell said. “It’s like kicking the puck. You know how much that has changed. You’re going to really have to define when a player is driven into a goaltender, when a goaltender embellishes it, all those things. When is a goalie in the white, when is a goalie in the blue? When is a player in the blue and when is he in front of the net. You really have to define goaltender interference is for us to make the call. Tell us what our marching orders are.”
New director of player safety Stephane Quintal made his first presentation to the GMs and focused on the rising number of knee-on-knee hits in the NHL. A coach’s challenge, 3-on-3 overtime in the American League and, at Poile’s suggestion, placing a monitor in the penalty box for referees to review calls, were also discussed.