NHL GMs vote to end ice scraping before OT

NHL general managers have decided to stop the dry scraping of the ice before overtime, beginning this weekend.

Shovelling crews to be used instead

Rather than Zambonis, shovelling crews like this one in Philadelphia will now scrape the ice before overtime. (Rich Schultz /Getty Images)

Ice crews, grab your shovels. The NHL is scrapping the dry scrape before overtime.

General managers decided Tuesday to end the practice of having the ice scraped but not resurfaced at the end of regulation. The goal when it was instituted was to cut down on the number of shootouts, but when that didn't have enough of the desired effect and the flow of the game was interrupted, the call was made to go back to shovelling the ice beginning Saturday.

"That was my bad idea," Ken Holland of the Detroit Red Wings said. "The feeling in there was the dry scrape is a buzz kill. It is just taking too long to get from the end of the game back to playing, so we're going to use people to shovel the ice, try within 90 seconds to two minutes to get back up and playing."

Games were being delayed anywhere from just under five minutes to just under seven, according to NHL executive vice president and director of hockey operations Colin Campbell. Even though slightly more games are ending in overtime rather than a shootout, it wasn't the evidence that GMs needed to make the switch.

Instead, David Poile of the Nashville Predators saw fans leaving after the third period, and his colleagues didn't like how it affected game action.

"I think that common sense, just watching the games, watching the delay and just looking at the flow," Lou Lamoriello of the New Jersey Devils said. "There are assets to doing it. But I think that game itself is more important, and the flow of the game, and it took away from that."

Players agreeable to change

Campbell said the league had talked to the Players' Association, and players seem to be on board with the change.

Switching ends for overtime, which leads to longer line changes, will remain in place. The league will not do a dry scrape of the middle of the ice before shootouts, as had been the case in previous years.

Expanded video review, three-on-three in overtime and knee-on-knee hits were among the many other topics discussed at the annual meeting the day after the Hockey Hall of Fame induction ceremony that's used to set the table for March's three-day gathering in Boca Raton, Fla.

The American Hockey League is experimenting with three minutes of four-on-four followed by four minutes of three-on-three in OT and has experienced a rise in games decided before shootouts. Many GMs like what they've seen but want to give it some more time and watch more games before deciding.

"You do like to see the game end with a goal versus the shootout," Poile said. "Possibly you could say three-on-three is more of a compromise. I'm not sure yet."

Traffic in front of the net

The NHL has been internally tracking goaltender interference issues this season and the group looked at six separate examples and voted on whether the goal should be allowed or disallowed.

"It's a popular topic at every meeting and just the goal of getting it right, basically," Jarmo Kekalainen of the Columbus Blue Jackets said. "It's so hard for the referees and the speed of the game and how it happens at ice level. I guess we want to further talk about and have a discussion about how we can review to get them right more than wrong and still not have too many reviews and slow the process of the game too much."

Stephane Quintal gave his first presentation in front of the GMs since taking over for Toronto Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan as vice-president of player safety. Knee-on-knee hits were part of that, as Quintal said they're happening once every 14 games instead of once every 24 games last year.

"We're seeing an increase of lower-body injuries, more knee incidents," Quintal said. "We're paying attention to it."


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