Wednesday, December 08, 2004

The Shanahan Summit's recommendations

Brendan Shanahan's summit of players, coaches, general managers and referees has ended, producing ten recommendations for the improvement of hockey for the NHL to consider. The first on the list was a recommendation for the creation of a permanent competition committee which would include the same groups that were in the summit. Shanahan said in the news conference today, "The idea of the competition committee is that in the future we all have a voice on these matters." Besides the idea for a committee, the summit group came up with suggestions such as: -- Streamlining goalie equipment. This would be accomplished by a committee of nine goaltenders, six of whom would be current players and elected by the rest of the league's goalies, while the other three would be retired. They would worked together with the NHL staff and manufacturers to safely reduce pad size across the board. -- Reducing obstruction. This, like the goalie equipment, is hardly a new idea but their suggestion is to have the players and the officials work together rather than have one side impose difficult rules on the other. -- Using a shoot-out to decide a game still tied after a five-minute overtime period. Shanahan said, "The group felt very strongly that with what fans are paying to see a game, they deserve to see a winner." -- Reducing minor penalties from two minutes to one minute during overtime. They want to take the awaythe responsibility of the referee of essentially deciding the game in overtime by making it 4-on-3 for two minutes, even if their call was right. This way the refs will not feel so pressed to not make the call. -- Adopting the rules currently being experimented with in the AHL: tag-up offsides, wider bluelines, putting the net back where it was, and placing restrictions on goalie movement behind the net. Wings number one goalie Curtis Joseph said, "It's going to limit the amount that the goalie can play the puck, but I've learned that it's working in the American Hockey League and it's creating offense." -- Instituting automatic, no-touch icing. The numerous injuries caused by touch icing over the years were the main reason for this suggestion. There is a catch though. They want to have a rule prohibiting the defending team from changing after the puck. That way a team will not be able to simply ice the puck after a tough defensive-zone struggle in order to get new bodies out there. As Dallas Stars head coach said, "It promotes skill." -- Making any puck shot directly into the stands from the defensive zone a two-minute penalty for everyone, not just the goalie. It's just not safe for players to do that and if they cannot get away with it, they'll do it a lot less. -- Improving broadcaster's access. This is an obvious attempt at spicing up the televised product, one which is generally agreed to be the worst presented of the major sports. This way, there could be live, in-game interviews of coaches and players on the bench, much like what ESPN/ABC has tried at times. -- Improving communication and partnership at all levels. This is a blanket suggestion much in line with the first one. Shanahan will meet with Gary Bettman and Bob Goodenow to discuss what happens next. He said he will wait a while though since "they've got some things to do," meaning Thursday's labor talks. He hopes NHL director of hockey operations Colin Campbell will listen to the summit group's recommendations as well as take part in the competition committee, if it is in fact created. Obviously most of these recommendations are not very original but I think the fact that they come from the real workers in the league says a lot. These guys are not a group of NHL bureaucrats working on solutions to a game they are too far removed from to appreciate. These are men who know the game and have opinions that the NHL should take into consideration. I can't say I have very much confidence in the League, though, since they seem to be mainly concerned with keeping that employer-employee relationship they have going instead of at least a nominal partnership. (via. TSN)


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