Hockey is a pretty great sport, right? It may be the best sport there is, which makes it a bit of a shame that it’s biggest professional league is ridiculous with how it is ran.
Don’t get me wrong, the National Hockey League is… well it’s ok. It’s been around for 101 years, so they’ve had to do some things right along the way to last as long as they have, but when you look back at the history of the league – which by the way you could do somewhat easily if you read the fantastic and very funny book “The Down Goes Brown History of the NHL” by Sean McIndoe – you wonder just how the hell they’ve pulled off such a feat.
And every year hockey fans, media, players, and managers always find new things to gripe about. The NHL is good, but it could be better. This is a universal truth.
Just how it could be better though is always open for some good debate. Inspired partly by a tweet I saw the other day asking what baseball fans would do to “fix” Major League Baseball, today I am going to ask: “What are the five things you’d do to fix the National Hockey League?”
To give you some inspiration, here’s my own list of fixes…
1: Get rid of offside reviews – I swear this isn’t related to last night’s debacle of a review between the Avalanche and the Sharks, because I’ve always hated that this was a thing. It’s even worse when the review is for a player who didn’t even factor into the actual play (like the aforementioned Gabriel Landeskog offsides) or worse yet, when a zone entry is offsides by mere inches and then 20 to 30 seconds after that initial entry, a goal is finally scored rendering the zone entry kind of moot. Just get rid of the whole process.
2: Review plays that will result in a five minute major or game ejection – As we saw in game seven of the San Jose / Vegas series, a five minute major and game misconduct can produce a wild swing in fortunes for both teams – granted Vegas forgetting how to hockey for those five minutes surely didn’t help either – but it was a dramatic example of just how important major calls are. Officials are only human and get to see a play happen once in real time and then try to determine something as critical as a disqualification of a player or forcing a team to play a man down for five minutes, that’s kind of crazy right? Let’s help the refs try to get it right.
3: Get a time limit on reviews – This is quickly turning into five ways I’d fix video reviews. (I swear this is the last one) Nothing bothers me more than seeing officials take forever to review a play, almost seemingly looking for one key piece of evidence to overturn a call. If in a span of two minutes, if you can’t find any evidence to change the call on the ice, then the screens go black and they leave it be. Maybe it’ll make for missed video reviews but we were already getting those anyway. At least now refs will have a solid reason to miss them.
4: Just a general overhaul of OT in general – After five minutes of three on three hockey, make them play five more minutes of two on two (with goalies of course). Also to prevent this whole “hold on to the puck for the perfect scoring chance” thing that has developed over the last two seasons, once a team crosses the center line with the puck, they’ll be penalized with loss of possession if they peel back and regroup in their own zone. Think of it as the NHL’s version of basketball’s “over and back” rule. No need to stop play here either, just two quick blasts of a whistle and the opposing team has to retreat back without the puck while the other team gets to collect it.
5: Wear white at home, colors on the road – I get why the NHL has it the other way around for the alternate jerseys and such, but I really miss seeing different teams come in with different colors. Added bonus, the “White Out” would make a little more sense for Jets playoffs.