Friday, July 22, 2005

Response to some FAQs

Some of the Q/A's in the FAQ's on the League's site caught my eye so I thought I'd make some comments on them. The text in blockquotes below comes from the NHL's Relaunch FAQs, followed by my responses.

Has the 2006 All-Star Game been cancelled?

Yes. As part of the new CBA, NHL players will participate in the 2006 and 2010 Olympic Winter Games and the League will not hold All-Star Games in those years.

Surprising that the League, which is going to have to work very hard to win fans back, would cancel the game specifically for the fans. The Olympics are great but they obviously aren't directly tied to NHL hockey and fans will distinguish the two. It seems like an especially weak policy to cancel the All Star Game in the League's first year after a season-canceling lockout. I guess it was the players' decision.

Too bad for Glendale, Arizona. Bettman says they'll get the game again someday, just not in 2007 since a city has already been decided on.

Will the playoff format be expanded to include more than 16 teams?


Whew! I'm very glad the rumors about adding 4 teams to the playoffs aren't true. Having 2/3 of the teams in the post-season would have been ridiculous (it's already bad enough to have over half of the teams make it). Not to mention adding another whole round to an already long playoff run. Imagine the possibility of a team playing 35 extra games after an 82 game regular season in order to win the Cup. Besides, the 16 wins seems like the right number to me.

Will the overtime format change?

Yes. If a game is tied at the end of regulation time, the teams will play a four-on-four, sudden-death overtime period. If the game remains tied at the end of the five-minute overtime, a shootout (three shooters per team; if teams still tied after three shots, then sudden death) will be used. Our fans have told us in overwhelming numbers that they like the excitement of the four-on-four format. They have also told us that they would like to see every game produce a winner. The addition of the shootout will add to the excitement and provide a result to every game.

Maybe so but I still think it's gimmicky. Why not just extend over-time indefinitely like they do in the playoffs? Playoff overtime is some of the most exciting hockey and to me it's a more legitimate way to decide tied games. Sure there'd be some overly long games but at least let the players play it out and decide the game as a team, like they're supposed to. I'd hate to see some important games decided down the stretch by something as individualistic as a shootout, as exciting as it may be. Part of the excitement of the penalty shot and situations like that is their rarity. Why make it common? I think we'll have some angry fans after they try this one out.

What will the role of the new Competition Committee be?

The Competition Committee, comprised of NHL players, general managers and owners will ensure that the game is being played in a manner that emphasizes entertainment, skill and competition.

The inaugural Competition Committee is comprised of Philadelphia Flyers' Chairman Ed Snider, General Managers Bob Gainey (Montreal), Kevin Lowe (Edmonton), David Poile (Nashville) and Don Waddell (Atlanta) and players Rob Blake (Colorado), Jarome Iginla (Calgary), Trevor Linden (Vancouver) and Brendan Shanahan (Detroit). NHL Players' Association Director of Business Operations Mike Gartner also will provide input to the Committee.

The Competition Committee met for the first time on June 23 in Toronto and met as recently as this past Tuesday to finalize the new rules for the 2005-06 season.

It's good to know the Competition Committee had a say in the rule changes the League is implementing this year. I guess it gives the changes a bit more credibility in my mind since they weren't just approved by some arbitrary group of people in the NHL office.

Text in blockquotes in this section comes from the CBA FAQ.

Will Clubs be able to renegotiate contracts with players?

No. Player contracts will not be renegotiated (upward or downward) during their term. Extensions may be negotiated but only in the final year of the contract and only if such extension is for an amount that can be accommodated in a Club's upper limit for the current year or as computed for future years.

So it doesn't look like a contract extension would work in Nick Lidstrom's case. He is in the final year of his contract but with that provision that counts the extension amount toward the current year (rather than the future years), an extension wouldn't serve much purpose. He's still on our buy-out list but only as a last resort and only if the Wings need more cap room for some other reason. They can keep him but they'll just have a younger roster and won't be able to be as active on the free agent market.

Has the date of the trading deadline been moved?

Yes. The trade deadline will be moved from the 26th day to the 40th day immediately preceding the final day of the regular season.

Interesting. That will give newly acquired players more time to become acclimated with their new teammates so they can play better together in the post-season. It also means teams will have to figure out their needs for the playoffs a little earlier. However, a lot can happen over 40 days and some teams may end up going in to the playoffs less well-prepared than they did when they could make trades up to 26 days before the end of the regular season. Besides leaving more time for familiarity, 40 days also leaves more time for players to get hurt and negate the advantage of having acquired someone in a trade in the first place.

Text in blockquotes is from the NHL's explanation of the new rules.

The neutral-zone edges of the blue lines will be positioned 64 feet from the attacking goal line and 75 feet from the end boards in the attacking zone. The addition of four feet in each of the offensive zones should encourage more offensive play, particularly on power-plays.

So the neutral zone is even narrower? Smart move, guys. Now players have even less room to build up speed going into the offensive zone. But when they get there, they'll have plenty of room to move around, right?

Passes from behind the defensive blue line to the attacking blue line will be considered legal. The center red line will be ignored for purposes of the "two line pass". ... "Touch" icing will remain the practice, although the Linesman will have discretion to wave off apparent icing infractions if they are deemed the result of an attempted pass. Providing the discretion to the Linesman also should have the effect of reducing the number of situations in which a race for the puck might result in an injury to a player.
These two rule changes have some potential to be pretty cool (until teams adjust defensively and shut down the long bomb pass). Just close your eyes and imagine Pavel Datsyuk taking a pass at the blue line and walking in all alone on that goalie. Pretty cool, huh? And if that pass doesn't connect, the linesman may just waive off the icing and play will continue, probably resulting in a good scoring chance anyway. The potential for that will last about a game or two before defensemen start sitting back between the circles at all times. But those two games will be exciting, eh?

Goaltenders may play the puck behind the goal line only in a trapezoid-shaped area defined by lines that begin six feet from either goal post and extend diagonally to points 28 feet apart at the endboards. ... Goaltenders who play the puck behind the goal line but outside the designated puck handling area will be penalized for delay of game.
I was against this one when Ken Holland first mentioned it and I'm against it now. I'd rather see them make goalies fair game behind the net than add those stupid lines to the schematic of the ice. All it's going to result in is a lot more stoppages in play because goalies will take time to break the habit of playing the puck. We'll see more delay of game penalties and more breaking up of the flow. Isn't that exciting? Funny how in that case the only "delay of game" would be caused by the ref stopping everything in order to call the penalty. If the goalie could just play the puck, play would continue. Oh, the NHL unveiled its new logo today. I can't say I'm vastly impressed with it. It's not bad per se but it doesn't seem to have the same business-like feel as the logos of the other pro leagues. It looks like a secondary logo to me or like something off the cover of that NHL Hitz video game. I don't really know what was so wrong with the old one. Ah well. The League wants to be new and fresh. Maybe it'll work. It's wasted on me since I'm already a fan and I'm not likely to stop being one, as much as I may grumble from time to time.


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