Two weeks ago, the guest on Hockey Night After Hours was Rob Blake, who recently moved from the NHL's department of player safety to the Los Angeles Kings as assistant general manager. Blake was asked what one rule he would change if he had the conch.
"The thing that I keep looking at is how to get the goals correct," he said. "We talked about replay.
"They experimented with different things. How to do it with every goal ... You would like to see that every goal that crosses the goal-line is a correct goal.
"How you do it? I don't know."
His words came not long after Vancouver Canucks head coach John Tortorella called for similar action after incidental contact by Daniel Sedin on goaltender Kari Lehtonen resulted in a disallowed goal in a 2-1 loss to the Dallas Stars.
"You go to football ... they want to make sure it's a score," Tortorella said. "If you can review that, I think you'll get the call right.
"But it's unreviewable. All the crap we review and they don't review an important thing like that."
Tortorella was pretty calm, considering his words, and took pains to point out that the call wasn't what cost the Canucks the game. But Tortorella and Blake are correct - for the good of the sport, it's time to find a way.
It's not like the NHL is in complete disagreement. Blake added that NHL senior executive vice-president of hockey operations Colin Campbell and senior vice-president Mike Murphy have solicited opinions on how to properly do it.
Two years ago, the league made a nice little move, allowing officials power to congregate after a goal. Is it enough? Maybe this is a tiny outbreak, but the answer appears to be no. In addition to the Canucks, there are examples of misses for the Anaheim Ducks here and Montreal Canadiens here (3-0 goal at 1:04). The races are too tight, the games too important.
After that Anaheim example, I was reminded by an NHL exec that, in the NFL, penalties are not reviewable. That league simply determines whether the touchdown happened legally. Hockey, which already looks at goals to make sure the puck is in, will need to go further.
All three of the above examples easily could have been overturned. Determining whether or not a stick is over the crossbar is a tougher call on replay.
One of the reservations is game length. Remember the late 1990's, when every goal was followed by defensive players pointing to the replay booth like a sniper was hiding up there? Well, two differences should ease that concern.
First, we're not looking for fingernails in the crease like we were then. Second, the technology is so much better.
I've never forgotten this 1986 Sports Illustrated feature on umpire Don Denkinger, who famously erred in Game 6 of the 1985 World Series. No one needs to go through that, especially in the social media age of internet tough guys.
1. I thought it was important to start with Florida Panthers GM Dale Tallon's denial in a Miami Herald blog of our report on Hockey Night Hotstove that he had a trade in place involving Dmitri Kulikov, which was the reason the defenceman was scratched last week. It is believed Tallon's trading partner was the Colorado Avalanche. The two teams did have some serious talks and may do so again. Tallon didn't comment before we went to air and I stand by the info, but it should be known that history proves he's been honest when I've contacted him about things.
2. The Panthers sure are giving Tim Thomas a chance to impress the U.S. Olympic cabal. He's started 15 of Florida's last 16 games and posted a 1.62 goals-against average and a .938 save percentage in winning his last three starts. Thomas seems like a logical trade deadline target, but he's got a no-move clause in his contract. When he signed, he wanted to stay the season. Will that change?
3. Here's the problem with the "If Brooks Orpik fights Shawn Thornton immediately following the Loui Eriksson hit, none of this ever happens" theory. Because Orpik's teammate James Neal goes right to the bench after his Brad Marchand kneelift, some unfortunate Pittsburgh Penguin is going to have to answer for what happened - even if Orpik fought earlier. There is no end, just a new beginning.
4. Analyst P.J. Stock took a lot of grief for his pro-fighting stance last weekend on Hockey Night in Canada. While I disagree that fisticuffs remain an effective deterrent, he's right that too many players still do not fear supplemental discipline. It will never happen, but what I'd love to see is a rule that any suspended player cannot have a shorter ban the next time he faces it. For example, Neal's next punishment, should he get one, would be at minimum six games, regular season or playoffs.
5. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said Monday night that the league is projecting a record $3.6 billion US in revenues for 2013-14. That's approximately nine per cent higher than the last full schedule ($3.3 billion in 2011-12). It's not a totally fair comparison - there was a lockout-shortened season in between - but only once in the previous collective bargaining agreement was there a higher increase from one 82-game stretch to the next. The average growth rate was about seven per cent from 2006-12. It'll be interesting to see what happens next year.
6. Bettman on NHL expansion: "All we're saying is we listen when somebody wants us to listen." Translation: Start calling, I want to know what the options are. Also good to know in case there's ever reason to relocate.
7. I heard rumblings that Nashville Predators GM David Poile was ready to gauge the market value of his players, but he replied via email: "No, we just have to start winning some games." They got one, 4-1 in Manhattan on Tuesday. A couple names that came up - from other teams, not Nashville - were Matt Cullen and David Legwand. Legwand is Mr. Predator, the organization's first-ever draft pick, but unsigned for next season.
8. The New York Islanders ended their 10-game winless streak and 10-game road losing streak with a 3-2 shootout victory Tuesday in San Jose. It temporarily eased a cavalcade of pressure to do something as the season slipped away, but this isn't an easy in-season fix since they've already dealt Nino Niederreiter, a first-round draft pick in either 2014 or 2015 and a second-rounder in 2015. There's no point in dealing away any more of the future and adding too much salary is not in their DNA. To really address this, it might take until the summer.
9. It wouldn't be a surprise to see the Kings reach out to Wayne Gretzky and ask him about joining them for the Dodger Stadium Outdoor Game festivities and use that towards building a larger role with the club. Kings GM Dean Lombardi has said several times that he wants The Great One to be part of the organization, even if it's just to walk through the dressing room once in a while.
10. At some point this week, there was to be a contract meeting between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Dion Phaneuf.
11. At the same time, the Canadiens and Newport Sports, which also represents Phaneuf, are making an honest effort at getting a deal done with P.K. Subban. Neither side is commenting, but it sounds like there is a real attempt to find common ground. There will be great fascination with the price point. As one exec joked, "He's not getting any cheaper," but I'm very curious to see how Subban feels about term.
12. Subban will turn 25 years old on May 13. He's an unrestricted free agent in July 2015. The Canadiens will want some degree of comfort and control. Does he want two more big contracts, which would mean a five- or six-year deal now?
13. As Cam Ward and Anton Khudobin return to health, the Carolina Hurricanes face a dilemma with Justin Peters. They were a little disappointed in Peters' play last season, but he's made big strides and kept them in the wobbly Metropolitan Division race this season. Peters must clear waivers to go back to the minors and Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford won't risk it. The division-rival Islanders seem like a natural poacher. So Carolina will keep three goalies until a move is made.
14. After a three-win week over the Washington Capitals, Predators and Sharks, Rutherford pulled back his attempts to make a trade. It's no secret that he's been looking. The west-coast trip began with a regulation loss in Vancouver and overtime defeat in Edmonton. Whenever there are rumours about young defencemen, it's wise to check his interest.
15. A couple of years ago, Rutherford explained his belief that you should wait for such a player to hit age 24 before really making a judgment on his situation. Michael del Zotto turns 24 on June 24. Jake Gardiner turns 24 on July 4. Those guys are right up his alley, but neither the Rangers nor the Maple Leafs are in any position to take on salary.
16. Okay, how many GMs called the Canucks asking if Alex Edler was available after Tortorella chewed him out on the bench in New York?
17. There's a bit of this with Evander Kane, too. Who knows what is true and what isn't, but because there are rumours about this marriage, the Winnipeg Jets do get queries. One thing I'm learning is Kane's contract makes him extremely valuable. With where the salary cap is going, to get a 22-year-old with a 30-goal history and four more years of cost certainty is pretty good.
18. The Buffalo Sabres search for a new GM continues to widen with permission requested of Mike Futa, the Kings co-director of amateur scouting. It wouldn't be a surprise if former Maple Leafs GM John Ferguson, now the Sharks director of pro scouting, is another interviewee.
19. The Sabres are pretty quiet about all this, but one of the interesting developments is Pat LaFontaine isn't the only new face to be part of the process. Joe Battista, the former coach of Penn State's club hockey program, is among those asking for permission and sitting in on interviews. In an administrative position, he helped secure Sabres owner Terry Pegula's $88-million donation to the school and recently left to become vice-president of hockey-related businesses of Pegula's management team. Clearly, Pegula trusts him.
20. Interim head coach Ted Nolan says he'd like to see Ryan Miller stay in Buffalo. Miller looks at Henrik Lundqvist's seven-year, $59.5-million contract with the Rangers and says, "That's the market." Now the Sabres know what it will take to keep him. At 33, Miller is 19 months older than Lundqvist, which is a big factor.
21. As it stands, Buffalo has about $30 million in commitments to 10 players for next season. There's a reasonable possibility that Ville Leino is headed towards a compliance buyout, which would remove $4.5 million. The cap floor will be around $52 million and the Sabres are very clearly worried about fan reaction. What Miller said publicly would turn away some teams, but Buffalo may be different.
22. The Lundqvist extension was completed in a three-hour meeting last Tuesday night. It took longer than most of us suspected, but, in the end, both sides wanted closure one way or the other. The Rangers were nervous about term, but once they made the decision to go seven, they were confident it was going to get done.
23. Good line: Sam Gagner of the Edmonton Oilers said people started calling him "Quagmire" after he posted the photo of his jaw injury on Twitter.
24. Something to keep an eye on: Oilers head coach Dallas Eakins says he's considered using David Perron as a defenceman in 5-on-5 situations late in games should Edmonton need offence. Eakins almost did it in a 4-2 win over the Calgary Flames on Nov. 16, but the team came back before it was necessary. You know Eakins is going to do it one day.
25. It's happening quietly, but Jamie Benn is becoming one of the best power forwards in the NHL. Not long after taking over as Stars GM, Jim Nill challenged Benn to find a higher level, to prove he wasn't satisfied with the status quo. "We haven't made the playoffs in five years," Benn said last week. "He asked me if I was willing to go the extra mile to change it ... When things aren't going very well, what was I going to do about it?"
26. One of the changes Benn made was spending more time in Texas during the summer. Asked if there was anyone he was trying to emulate, Benn thought for a second before choosing Ryan Getzlaf of the Ducks. According to extraskater.com, Getzlaf and Benn rank 1-2 in the NHL in even-strength points per 60 minutes. Benn's teammate Tyler Seguin, by the way, is third.
27. Benn on the difference between playing with Seguin and Mike Ribeiro: "Very different. When Seguin gets over the line, he's going straight towards the net. Ribeiro likes to skate around and find the open spaces."
28. Tyler Kennedy on the similarities between Pittsburgh and San Jose: "Good coaches who care about you and want you to get better. Both teams are serious about winning games. No nights off."
29. Kennedy's teammate Marc-Edouard Vlasic is playing his way onto the Canadian Olympic team. Asked what on-ice rules the Sharks coaching staff has for him, Vlasic replied: "Not many. Be smart is what they ask."
30. Vlasic's got a wicked sense of humour, too. Asked what it's like to receive so much (new) attention, he laughed and said, "It's about time." When Avalanche head coach Patrick Roy shook the glass on opening night, the defenceman joked that he texted, "That didn't take long," to his former junior coach. "I didn't actually do that," Vlasic said. "I sent congratulations. He's going to be very successful."
Follow Elliotte Friedman on Twitter @FriedgeHNIC
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