how to improve the NHL even more: rule changes for next year

We’re about a third of the the way through the season, so I think it’s time to ask how the rule changes are working…

And frankly, I like them. But they’re not perfect.

Here’s what I’d change for next season.

First, the schedule. I hate it.

Here are two alternatives:

new schedule A:

play the other conference home and home: 15 teams x 2 = 30
play everyone in your conference home and home: 14 teams x 2 = 28 (58)
play everyone in your division 2 sets of home and home: 4 teams x 4 = 16 (74)
rotate the last six games around your divisional teams, focusing on rivalries. or cut the schedule a bit. I’m easy.

In this schedule, everyone sees every team once, with a strong focus on divisional play after that.

new schedule B:

play the other

play the other conference 1 game per season, switching venues (each team visits the other every other season)
15 x 1 = 15
play everyone in your conference 4 times (14×4 = 36, for 51 games)
play everyone in your division 6 times (4×6 = 24, for 75 games)
then either cut the schedule, or fill in with divisional rivalries.

Personally, I prefer plan B. I’d LOVE to get every team into every building, but with 80 games and 30 teams, in practice, it’s tough. But we can get them in every other year, and still focus on divisional rivalries.

In this schedule, the Sharks would play Philly once, Calgary 4 times, anaheim 10 times. If anaheim is your rival, it might be 12 times, and I have no problem with a 77 game season.

Next rule change:

protect the goaltender. But not TOO much. players crashing the goalie is a bigger problem this year. My suggestion: bring back the half-moon crease, maybe extend it a bit. If you touch a goalie in the crease, it’s goaltender interference. If the goalie is outside of the paint, it’s not. Pure and simple. If the goalie wants to leave the crease to challenge, then he’s going to have to accept some contact. If he stays in the crease, players have to leave him alone.

Next rule change:

Do away with the “no touch” zones for the goalies. While I supported that change at the start of the season, I think goalies have for the most part adjusted already, adn they don’t really have that big an impact compared to the rest of the changes. What they end up being, then, are not useful restrictions on goalies but an artificial obstacle course for them — and that’s not what this game’s about. so nuke them.

Referees continue to need to work on what’s legitimate physical play and what’s a penalty, especially in the slot, but this needs refinement, not changing. And 30 games into the season, I think they’re mostly getting it right — and I certainly don’t want to go back to the days we had. There are some players who simply can’t play the new rules — and while they hate the changes, what the league needs is to replace them with players who can.

Other than these tweaks: LEAVE IT ALONE. I like it.