What rule changes do NHL players want to see? We asked 55 of the biggest stars | ET REALITY

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The game is in a great place.

That was the popular sentiment at the NHL general manager’s meetings in March in South Florida, when no rule changes were presented to the league’s competition committee for discussion and final approval. And it is also mainly what The Athletic I heard from players at recent NHL press tours in Stockholm and Henderson, Nevada.

“I’m very happy with how the league is and how the game is going,” Washington Capitals defenseman Rasmus Sandin said.

But still, there must be room for improvement, right? A new overtime format? Or a solution to the age-old problem of increasing goalkeeper equipment? Or… an NHL shot clock?

With the 2023-24 season right around the corner, we asked 55 players, including several of hockey’s best, “What’s one rule change you would make?” And indeed, we heard a number of old ideas resurface, as well as some interesting new ones.

Some players chose not to respond and others offered more than one idea. Some responded anonymously and others went on record and provided comments.

Here are the answers they gave, along with the number of players behind each one.


Three against three continuous

Votes: 6

Fans love three-on-three. So do the players.

Stars are able to show off their skills and many feel it is a better way to conclude a game than a shootout. So why not keep going until someone scores?

“I think three-on-three is about as exciting as our game can be, just with all the open space and speed,” Anaheim Ducks star Troy Terry said. “I just think it’s a more realistic way to end a hockey game.”

We are already trending toward more games ending in three-on-three. The format went into effect in 2015-16, and last season a record 68.5 percent of games that went beyond regulation ended before a shootout (207 of 302). Ninety-five went to a shootout. Here’s how that number has evolved over the last 10 years, with those ending in overtime, those ending in a shootout, and the percentage of the total in overtime:

Season Old Testament SO % I don’t

2022-23

207

95

68.5

2021-22

186

102

64.6

2020-21

130

Sixty-five

66.7

2019-20

164

86

65.6

2018-19

184

87

67.9

2017-18

193

103

65.2

2016-17

190

99

65.7

2015-16

168

107

61.1

2014-15

136

170

44.4

2013-14

129

178

42.0

Both the league and the players union have scoffed at extending three-on-three, citing player burnout, injury concerns, the fact that the same skilled players would play during overtime and the reality that Visiting teams need to improve. to the airport.

But as the Minnesota Wild’s Jake Middleton joked, “Maybe after five minutes, they’ll have to force guys like me to play three-on-three to get it over with.”

The referees talk after the games.

Votes: 5

As one player said: “We have to stand up and be responsible after every game. Why shouldn’t they?

Hey, that’s a good point.

As player after player in Henderson said, it’s a fast game and the referees and linesmen are human. But it would be nice to know what a referee or linesman was thinking or seeing during critical decisions during games.

“It would be fun,” Carolina Hurricanes forward Seth Jarvis said.

NFL and MLB media may send a reporter to speak with the referee or referees after controversial calls. The NBA allows a pool reporter to video chat with referees after disputed calls. The NBA also issues a play-by-play report with respect to all material calls and non-calls when the lead is three points or less in the last two minutes of the fourth quarter or the last two minutes of any overtime period for all games.

Although there are employees in the NHL Situation Room and the NHL Department of Player Safety who record calls they perceive to be incorrect or missed for each game throughout the season, this type of transparency is not provided in the NHL. .

“I don’t think there’s any desire to change our current policies regarding our officials and their conversations with the media,” NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said. “That said, I don’t think we are shirking our responsibility to address the media when controversial decisions or judgments are made. But I think that falls more on Colin Campbell, Stephen Walkom, Gary Bettman and me occasionally when those situations happen.

“I negotiated with officials this summer. We have just completed a new collective agreement that must be approved by the board of directors. But believe me, nothing has come up that interests you.”

I told Daly that maybe he was losing his mind, but I remember interviewing referees as a pool reporter in the 1990s. Just to make sure he wasn’t, I consulted with Hall of Fame hockey writers Eric Duhatschek and Jim Matheson, and it’s true. There was no set rule, but if the supervisor at the scene gave permission and the referee was willing, he would talk to a journalist. To the best of our memory, Kerry Fraser, Paul Stewart and the late Mick McGeough were among the referees who agreed to it.

At some point, that stopped.

“You’re probably right,” Daly said. “Many things have changed over time. Many of the officials used to have their names on their backs. They no longer do it, and that has not been a request on their part either. And I think they enjoy their anonymity on the ice as much as they can. So (referees talk to journalists) it has never been a topic of negotiation. And I think we strongly believe that the league should have that voice, not the referees.”


Is it enough for a referee to explain himself on the ice or should he do so after the game as well? (Jaylynn Nash/Getty Images)

Ten minutes three against three

Votes: 4

If continuous three-on-three isn’t possible, some players thought, why not at least 10 minutes?

“I like shootouts, but people want to see three-on-three,” Dallas Stars star Jason Robertson said.

“I don’t think it can be endless, but I like the idea of ​​extending it,” added Jack Eichel of the Vegas Golden Knights.

Smaller pads for goalies.

Votes: 3

“They’re still too big,” Detroit Red Wings forward Lucas Raymond joked.

Allow goals kicked

Votes: 3

If the puck deflects off the skate with a “different kicking motion,” according to the NHL rule book, it is not a goal. Some players wouldn’t mind seeing that change.

“There’s a lot of gray areas in whether someone kicked it or deflected it or picked up the skate or didn’t pick it up or stopped or it was intentional or not,” New Jersey Devils forward Jesper Bratt said. “Sometimes games are decided by someone in Toronto. I feel like sometimes we don’t have a clear view of what is or isn’t a goal, so my answer would be to simply allow kicks. You would get the same thing in every decision.”

Tage Thompson of Buffalo agreed.

“Sometimes you get stuck with a defenseman, kick him if you have a loose puck there,” he said.

And also score with high suits

Votes: 3

“Obviously I don’t want guys to start swinging their clubs like baseball bats,” Nashville Predators forward Filip Forsberg said, “but I think a lot of deviation should be allowed.”


Should stick height matter when deflecting a puck? (Bill Streicher/USA Today)

Special equipment settings

Votes: 2 each for…

If you give up a shorthanded goal, the power play should be canceled. It’s not a bad idea. If the power play fails, why should he get a chance to redeem himself?

If you score on the power play, the power play continues… I bet if you threw this idea into an NHL locker room, most players would agree.

If you put ice on the puck when you’re shorthanded, it’s icing. Rasmus Andersson, Calgary Flames defenseman: “They want more goals and this would get them. Now the PK can’t just take him down. “They have to remove it, which would cause players to get stuck on the ice.” Then he thought a little more before adding with a smile: “I guess I wouldn’t really like being in the PK, but as a PP, I would.”

If you are shorthanded or are on the ice to score an empty-net goal, you do not get any negative points: Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Adam Boqvist said, “I think it’s ridiculous, especially on empty-net players.”

Other ideas

Above were the nominees with multiple votes, but some players had unique ideas. These are the rule changes proposed by a single player:

When you hold the puck behind the net for more than five seconds, it’s a penalty. Believe it or not, this idea was proposed by a star defender who probably enjoys fans booing his comrades.

If you score on a delayed penalty, you still get a power play. New York Rangers defenseman Adam Fox said, “We did it in college and we still got rewarded.”

A shot clock similar to that of the NBA. This one is unique. Arizona Coyotes defenseman JJ Moser is tired of forwards not driving the play. “I have no idea what it would be like,” he said. “But I think it would create a lot more access to the network.”

• No goals disallowed — “I guess it’s a double-edged sword,” Devils star Jack Hughes said. “Maybe just for our team.”

• Allowing fans to stay glued together like they do at the Buffalo Bills stadium. A fun idea from JJ Peterka of the Buffalo Sabres, which has been happening at Hurricanes games forever. “The energy is unreal in that building…probably in part because of the tracking,” Peterka said, laughing.

Play more games in Europe. Florida Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov, a native of Finland, loves the fact that the league has expanded the Global Series in which four teams (the Detroit Red Wings, Minnesota Wild, Ottawa Senators and Toronto Maple Leafs ) will play games in Stockholm in November, but he doesn’t think it should be limited to a few games and a few teams each season. He would like to see games played in different countries with teams throughout an NHL season.

• Get rid of the salary cap

• Return to one-on-eight playoff format.

• Instead of a trapezoid, make them rectangles so the lines are straight instead of diagonal. This is a rule that refers to the area in which a goalie can handle the puck behind his goal line. Philadelphia Flyers goalie Felix Sandstrom smiled at his response and said he always gets confused about the line.

• Get rid of the delay of game penalty — This refers to the hated exaggerated calls.

• If a power play continues, the faceoff begins in the offensive zone to begin the next period.

• Expand to Europe — I’m not sure it’s really a rule, but it’s an idea.

(Top photo of a referee signaling no goal: Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

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