So the GM meetings were great. People don't like change, old people especially don't like change.
As a society when we see change coming we look for the negatives or the problems that change will cause. Why not look at the positive aspects?
Which is why it is great to have a new crop of Hockey brains entering into NHL management.
I love listening to Hockey Central at noon and Marek vs Wyshinski, they have guests on with varying points of view and give you a chance to think about hockey in a way outside of your own tunnel.
With this comes frustration however, Hockey Central comes at you from the point of view of the 'old school' of hockey, those that wax lyrical about 'the code', respect, and not wanting to change the game.
These people are scared.
They are scared only because they feel change will diminish their importance to the audience.
The mocking of advanced stats on Hockey Central especially by Doug Wilson and to a lesser extent Nick Kyprios, show one of two things;
1. Afraid of change.
2. Unwilling to learn something new.
Either way it doesn't help bring the game to new fans.
Yes I know the Hockey Central audience is full of hockey tragic's like myself, but it is the audience needing to be convinced the change is good for the game, whatever the league is thinking of implementing.
These radio programs and podcasts, ones with national and international reach, have a duty to the game they profit off to help it be better, this latest session of GM meetings show the GMs are fighting against these platforms, not with them.
I for one am ecstatic Doug Wilson is no longer a GM. He was at least honest enough to declare he put his own interests in front of the league interest. Listen to the March 17 podcast, it wasn't even for the betterment of his team, just his job.
Ken Holland has had to wrestle with old heads like Wilson, Brian Bourke, Jim Rutherford, Lou Lamerillo when trying to help instigate on ice change.
Ken Holland is no spring chicken, but he is a forward thinker and an old hockey head open and willing to look at change, but not change for changes sake. He is uniquely wonderful in the circle of hockey management at the NHL level.
Over the last 21 seasons he has had the advantage of making the playoffs with teams filled with a wonderful combination of skill, physicality, speed, youth and experience. Thus he's never had a big hole in his teams that could be exploited from a change to the game on the ice.
As I said in my previous peice, the NHL need to work out what the product is going to be on the ice, as they do not need a decrease in audience numbers when the next US TV deal is due.
The GMs look as though they are going to move towards adding a couple of minutes of 3 on 3 OT to try and reduce the frequency of shootouts, as a fan I'd rather the OT just go straight to 3 on 3 and try to basically eliminate the SO as a complete last resort.
Kudos to them for using the data from the AHL to come to this conclusion, the need for a 'winner' each game seems to be out weighing the actual value of a win, but that's a different topic.
Then there is the video review for goalie interference. I'm glad the GMs feel it needs to be looked at, but they have put the cart before the horse.
There isn't a need for video review if actual penalties are called as they are written in the book.
When we as fans get to look at the video review of the current settings, the overhead shot is only showing what is going on in the crease. It doesn't show how players got on top of the crease or on top of the goalie.
Many times you will see a defender cross check, trip, push, or throw the forward on top of their own goalie. Not intentionally of course, but the changing of the definition of a penalty as the year moves along means the officials do not consider these actions worthy of 'affecting the game' will end up slowing the game down 3 to 4 minutes for a review (however they construct it).
So call the penalties, by not calling a penalty the officials affect the game, plus they reinforce that action is acceptable.
This includes embellishment, I'm looking at you goaltenders, getting bumped and flying around like you've been shot doesn't help the cause.
Also, it is a penalty or embellishment, calling both is the easy way out and doesn't stop either player thinking twice about repeating the act.
I do not expect officials to be perfect, the players are far from it, same with coaches and GMs, however the officials are no longer accountable for their performance.
The NHL did away with the name plates on the back of the officials, under the theory that anonymity will help the officials make the 'tough calls'. Well I think the anonymity has allowed the NHL officials to walk away from bad calls.
It's time for officials to get public, they should be held accountable, like everyone else in the NHL, post game interviews are probably a step too far, but a weekly sit down by the head of officiating to cover off on interpretations, or more importantly changing of interpretations.
This would brings fans along for the ride and you can help them understand why interference is no longer interference, why slashing only matters when a player loses a stick rather than control of the puck.
I am not sure if it is Steve Walcom is setting the interpretations of the rules, but he is the one delivering the message to those implementing them on the ice. Ryan wrote a good peice on the sliding volume of penalties being called. Either teams have stopped taking penalties because they have adjusted to the rules, or the officials have changed their interpretation of the rules.
Take a look at the speed and freedom of the skilled players at the start of the season, and look at that space now. I think you know what my opinion of this is, and watch it fall away more in the playoffs.
Thanks for reading.