The NHL has just begun it’s second research and development camp in Toronto, Ontario. It runs today and tomorrow and will use top Junior Hockey players to be the guinea pigs for possible future rule changes. Some of the proposed rule changes could make their way into the AHL for further testing before they would be adopted by the NHL.
Some of the possible rule changes being tested include: no-touch icing; hybrid icing (referee decides to blow whistle if defensive player is leading the race to the puck, or let the players race all the way); expanding the shootout to 5 shooters instead of 3; and a 3 minute 3-on-3 overtime session. Read about these and other more radical proposed rule changes here.
The NHL has never been shy about changing its rules in the past. Remember that shootouts were instituted in 2005-06 after the yearlong lockout. The shootouts were tested first in the AHL in 2004-05. In 1999-2000 the NHL changed its overtime structure from 5-on-5 to 4-on-4 and awarded a point for an overtime loss in an effort to open up the game and make it more exciting. Once again overtime is on the agenda at this R&D camp, and there is one thing I wanna see…
Make the regular season games more meaningful and intense by changing the regular season point system. As it stands right now you get 2 points for a win (either in regulation or overtime) and 1 point for an overtime or shootout loss. I think that the NHL should award 3 points for a regulation win, then 2 points for an overtime/shootout win, and no points for an overtime/shootout loss.
Why? Awarding 3 points for a regulation win would give the teams a real incentive to win games in regulation and not play for overtime where they used to be guaranteed at least 1 point. Not guaranteeing a point for overtime/shootout would mean that teams could no longer be content with losses in the shootout and would have to play extra hard for those 2 possible points. This could possibly make games more entertaining and hard-fought, getting closer to the level of play and competition in playoff games.
I know that the NHL is a long 82 game season, I know it can be tough for the teams to bring it hard every night and play their hearts out. But the last 6 weeks of the regular season are when the teams are fighting for playoff spots and are hungry for 2 point wins. The level of play is increased and this carries on to the grueling playoffs, which are very enjoyable to watch. I think that my proposed changes to the point system could make every regular season game more meaningful, like they are in the last few weeks of the season.
The NHL wants its product to be exciting. The playoffs are very exciting. But why wait until the spring for exciting do-or-die hockey? Let’s give the players more to play for in the regular season. Let’s see the players go all-out for regulation wins. You may just get more casual fans tuning into regular season games. That’s never a bad thing.
What do you think? Do you agree with changing the point system? -OR- What possible rules changes are you excited about? Which ones don’t you agree with?