This is a big week for the National Hockey League, and not just because the Stanley Cup could be awarded.
The Competition Committee meets Monday. The GMs meet Wednesday.
Goaltender interference is on the agenda. So is video replay. Technically, they aren't listed in the same section, but after the Los Angeles Kings' third goal (please insert a video link to it) in their Game 2 victory over the Rangers, it's impossible to believe they won't be merged together.
Let's get one thing out of the way: the Rangers didn't lose Game 2 because of Dwight King's disputed goal. The way the Kings are going, no one would be surprised if they came back from 8-0 down with 10 minutes left.
But there's no doubt that play energized a lifeless building and altered both the game and the series.
While the NHL has come a long way, there can be resistance to change. Every time we seem to move closer to some kind of expanded replay, there's a setback. Either there's too much resistance or someone comes up with a scenario no one can solve.
There's also a worry about playing Big Brother to on-ice zebras, but it's time to get past this. One official, reached Sunday, admitted reaction to this would be "mixed," but eventually would see acceptance.
"At the end of the day, all we want to do is get the calls right," he said. Stick to goals
So, let's make it easier:
*Just do goals. Expanded replay stalls because the debate spreads into high sticks and pucks over glass. Those certainly are important, but it's critical to begin with a tight focus, to make sure the system works. It's better to start small, get it right and expand later.
*Do it from a centralized location. There's a reason the NBA and NFL are trying to copy the NHL's setup. It makes more sense. Extra monitors, better setup, more detailed technology, greater chance for speed and accuracy.
*Don't have current referees/linesman in the video room. This is what baseball does in its new setup, asking its active umpires to spend some time off the field and in the decision-making process. I'm not sure that works. Current officials will be skittish about changing calls. The NHL employs some recently retired guys, who were very good on the ice. Involve them.
*Offside plays. Ken Holland brought up a legitimate issue: at what point does a missed offside call still affect the play? For example, if an attacking team stays in the zone for another 45 seconds before scoring, does the missed offside really matter? What if the defenders have a chance to clear and don't? Committee membership
Those are all good questions. Lucky the Competition Committee consists of qualified people to think about the answers.
It features players (Mike Cammalleri, Ron Hainsey, Kevin Shattenkirk and Daniel Winnik). It features GMs (Peter Chiarelli, Holland, Don Maloney and David Poile). It features an owner (Ed Snider).
These are people who would give up a moderately valuable body part to be where the Kings and Rangers are now. Whoever is running the meeting should start by showing the 4-3 goal on a 60-foot flat screen and say, "Okay, imagine that was your team. What would you want done about it?"
Any rule change needs the support of the Competition Committee, the GMs and the Board of Governors. Two of those hurdles could be lept this week. The third tends to be a rubber stamp.
It's time. A great opportunity to make things better. Pretty soon we'll reach a point where, when a team is hurt by this kind of situation, the question is going to be, "Didn't you have a chance to prevent this?"
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