NHL: If it ain't broke, stop fixing it!

I have been watching the greatest game on earth (Ice Hockey) for a little over a decade now. Unfortunately, I feel the NHL has made many unnecessary changes over the last few years. For example, what is going on with OT? I am what many people would call a traditionalist. I would like to see the game of hockey changed as little as possible. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman doesn’t seem to agree with me and every year he comes up with a dozen ways to change it. The following are a couple examples of recent changes he has made:

4 on 4 Ot Hockey- “Why?” This is what every new fan asks me when I try to explain why a game would suddenly change from 5 on 5 hockey for 60 minutes to 4 on 4 for 5 minutes. The answer most would give is time and space. Time? If time is such a major concern in Overtime then why is it only played for 5 minutes? Look at any of the major sports (Football, Basketball, Baseball) they pretty much play until a winner/loser is decided. Why is this? Because no one wants to watch a tie. Too many ties is one of the NHL’s biggest problems and don’t even get me started on Regulation Ties. Does anyone know how many ties there has been in the NFL? One, maybe two. No not in a season in the history of the entire sport.

Solution: 20 minutes of Sudden death O.T (5 on 5). Even the most defensive minded team has trouble stopping an opponent for an entire period.

Expansion to Atlanta, Nashville, Columbus-

Don’t get me wrong I have no problem with any of these cities having NHL franchises. I think the problem with expansion in the NHL was too much too soon. There just isn’t enough talent to fill that many teams. Every year you see more and more players, most have never heard of, filling the rosters of your favorite NHL teams. It has gotten so bad teams have started to recruit retired players that couldn’t hack it years ago and can’t hack it now (see: Alexander Daigle).

Solution: Stop expanding damnit!!

Goaltender crease? What crease? This will go down in history as “What the hell was Gary Bettman thinking?”. Players in the NHL several years ago couldn’t seem to get their fat feet out of the goaltender crease and dozens of goals were disallowed. This rule, which has probably been around since the beginning, somehow disappeared from the rule book a couple years ago. Does anyone smell white-out? Instead of making players learn the rules he is perfectly happy changing the rules in any way to bring about higher scoring.

Solution: It’s the decade of the goaltender. Stop expanding and your talent pool with catch up. The goals will follow.

I could go on forever, but I won’t. I hope everyone enjoyed my first article. Please send me comments.

32 Responses to NHL: If it ain't broke, stop fixing it!

  1. big_booty says:

    I couldn’t agree with you more on overtime. I fail to see the logic in how changing the rules for five minutes can fix things.

    In baseball, teams don’t lose an outfielder for extra innings.

    One wide receiver doesn’t ride the pine when the score is tied at the end of regulation in football.

    The NBA would shrivel up and die if only eight players took the court in OT.

    I just think that mandatory four-on-four in OT is a joke.

    And another thing, what’s with the overtime losses? What other sport rewards losing with a boost in the standings? Another joke. That needs to change as well.

  2. Aetherial says:

    Overtime is meant to accomplish one thing.


    Not many people like to see a tie and let’s face it, overtime is end to end, exciting hockey. Hell, it makes me wish they would play 4 on 4 all the time 🙂

    It is better than penalty shots at least!!

  3. Leaf_Expert says:

    Good article!

    I agree 100%, except about the overtime speach…I like the overtime, only I think it should be 10 minutes long not 5….

  4. merlin says:

    I agree that ties stink. The NHL would be better off if they want to make it more entertaining to go to a shoot-out in overtime. Less people would leave before the end of a close game if they had a chance to watch 10 penalty shot type plays. The penalty shot is one of the most exciting plays in hockey…

  5. amok says:

    Good point about people leaving early. I’ll never understand why someone would want to cut out on the last five minutes of a tie game.

  6. infoengine says:

    Well I am almost sure why he decided to change the OT to 5 minutes. I think because that most of the goals scored in ot were in the first 5 minutes. Times is a main concern in all sports. I don’t agree with the 5 minute ot but I also don’t agree with the suggested solution. A 20 minute ot would not be succesfull.

    The reason I think he also changed it to 4 on 4 to spice things up. To keep the fanse interested. I think 4 on 4 actuall slows things down. I think the ultimute solution would be a regular 5 on 5 ot with 10 miunute ot.

  7. OldTimeHockey_28 says:

    Great article.

    Couple problems.

    The overtime bit. The reason it is only five minutes(which by the way, it has been for decades) is because the majority of new fans find the game to long already. Hence the 10 second draws.

    Secondly, the goaltender crease thing is not new. With the exception of 1 year (1999 I believe) the rule has been the same. A player can be in the crease as long as he doesn’t interfere with the goalie in any way. This is the way it’s always been. And this is the way it remains today.

    Other than that great article!!

  8. brodeur-hymn_tribute says:

    i disagree w/ the OT thing. 4 v 4 is the way to go because it frees up ice, only your 4 quickest players are out there, which creates end to end action and great scoring chances. if anything, change OT to 10 minutes to decrease ties (while keeping OT Losses as part of the points scheme in standings, of course)… from what i’ve read, i thought expansion was done after b.jackets and wild, but i might be mistaken. it def waters down the league though…

  9. titans says:

    I think all regulation ties should be decided with Kung Fu!!

  10. Tradedude says:

    I like your speach on expanding. lol.

    one thing. 4 on 4 ot is the best, its open ice, time to score, best of all, its fun and entertaining. leave the 4 on 4 hockey, screw ties. who cares if a club goes 40 – 30 – 00 – 12

  11. Steel250 says:

    Well said, one and all, i agree with most of what was said. But leave the overtime alone. Maybe Kung fu should be added! With the new netting around the ring we can string up some bungi cords and at least have “Thunderdome”!! EIGHT-MAN-ENTER, SEVEN-MAN-LEAVE!!!

  12. rojoke says:

    The reason why the penalty shot is exciting is (a) it’s rare; and (b) it’s usually the result of a defender preventing a scoring chance. It has to be earned by the shooter. When the debate really heated up a few years, someone made the suggestion of having the shootout BEFORE the opening faceoff. That way, the team that lost the shootout would have an added incentive to win the game in regulation.

  13. rojoke says:

    I’d like to propose something not often discussed. With the three-point game (2 for a win, 1 for OT loss), why does the league go on a points-for-wins basis? Football doesn’t do it, nor baseball or basketball. The overtime format effectively means that a team could lose every game during the season and still make the playoffs. Highly improbable, yes, but possible. It also makes it possible for a team to advance to the playoffs by effectively losing games. Two teams could go neck and neck during the season, tied with the same record, but if one team can play an extra five minutes in just one game, they’re in and the other team is out. Hell, they don’t even have to play the full five minutes, it only takes ten seconds to score from a center-ice faceoff.

    But there is a solution to this ‘dilemna’, as i see it. Rank teams based strictly on winning percentage, like football, baseball and basketball do. A win is a win, a loss is a loss, and a tie is a tie. Rank them on a most wins, fewest losses basis. I hate when I hear players say in interviews how they’re just grateful to get a point out of it. The object is supposed to be to win the game, not to salvage a point. If two teams are tied at the end of 60 minutes, play another 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 20 minutes, whatever.

    By the way, do you think that Bettman ever suggested adding a two-point line in hockey, i.e. goals outside the faceoff circles would be worth two goals? Just something to laugh at.

  14. rojoke says:

    It was my understanding that the 5-minute overtime was an arbitrary decision, and that it was for the benefit of fans, who were already unhappy with the length of games. There were some GMs who wanted a 10-minute OT period, but couldn’t get enough support to approve it. Either that, or they took it right out of the NBA rulebook, who play a 5-minute overtime as opposed to the regular 12-minute quarter.

  15. Heinzee57 says:

    I have spoken out against expansion several times.

    Eliminate 4 teams and expand the active NHL rosters by 1 or 2 players. (My choices for expulsion would be Nashville, Columbus, Anaheim & Florida)

    Then take the best players on these teams and have a contraction draft with the bottom teams picking first. At that point you’d have an evenly matched, exciting league to watch.

    Which leads me to the next issue: Overtime.

    One of the main reasons for the 5 minute overtime is game length. It is not because the fans want shorter games. If a 7pm EST game ends by 9:30 and a lenghty (20 min) overtime was played, teams traveling the same night would have no rest for back to back games. Nevermind a morning skate follwing a road OT loss or worse a 20 min. stalemate.

    If the league contracted, you’d have less games, a longer bench and a softer schedule that could afford more travel time and hence longer OT.

    Screw 4 on 4. It’s exciting, but takes away the integrity of previous 3 periods.

    Don’t even say SHOOTOUT in front of me, I’ll be sick.

    Finally, here’s a change I have wanted to see for years.

    Players should be allowed to kick the puck in the net. If a player has enough presence of mind and talent to score with his feet, so be it.

    Also because I understand Sergei Samsonov is an excellent soccer player.

    That is all.


    – “I was just checkin out the specs on the endline, rotary.. girder…. I’m retarded.”

  16. Heinzee57 says:

    I’ll respond to my own post:

    These changes I have suggested will NEVER happen. Less games means less money for the league….


  17. Kingsfan1 says:

    You know what the stupidest rule change is, is the no touch up on offsides, i mean change it back to if you go offsides you can retouch and go after the puck, I’m sick and tired of seeing teams bring the puck in deep when they know the opponent is offsides and play for a whistle. I’d like to see them bring the shootout to games after OT so teams would stop playing for the tie and get rid of the 1 point for OT loss, the team that wins the shootout gets the 2 points.

  18. Heinzee57 says:

    They why waste our time on the game and just have one big shoot out??

    I have been to ECHL games with the shootout and it makes all the work during the game a waste.

    Being on the losing end of a shootout after coming back from being down 3-0 is a bitch.


  19. aafiv says:

    OT: In baseball you can’t tie, you keep playing until there’s a winner. In Football you play sudden death and only tie if there is no score.

    The current 4 on 4 for five minutes is a joke and I don’t find it entertaining at all. Play 5 on 5 in sudden death for 20 mins and then, if you still don’t have a winner, then make it a tie. The odds are that someone will score. Get rid of the OTL nonsense it’s confusing to newer fans and confusion is bad when you are trying to grow.

    2 Refs: Get rid of the second referree. Whats the hell was the point of this in the first place? One guy making bad calls all night long and missing half of the infractions is better than having two guys miss half of the infractions, make bad calls, and then try and compensate for each other. Geez!!!

    While we are at it, the NHL should stop promising to cut down on obstruction. It’s obvious that the league and the refs like obstruction – it’s the only explanation for why the “crackdown” peeters out after two months.

    Expansion: Get rid of Anaheim, Tampa Bay, Nashville, and Buffalo. The first three are so inept that they don’t deserve and NHL franchise and the last because it’s bankrupt.

    Goal Crease: I like the rules as they are now for this.

  20. TheShack says:

    I don’t mind 4 on 4 in overtime. The whole point of it is to force a result. There are more scoring chances while playing 4 on 4 than when play is 5 on 5. The points awarded for a tie after regulation is again another method of forcing a result. If a team is already guaranteed a point after regulation, then the overtime is a battle for the other point. So for all those people that don’t like ties…take a look at the current system a little closer…it exists with the sole intent of breaking the tie.

    Note: Overtime after overtime would be better, but teams do have to travel to their next game, and with 82 games a season, all the additional playing time would wear the players out.

  21. pop0331 says:

    How about this for a rule change? ALL players in the nhl: throw a check into MARIO for christsakes!!! i know i’ve ranted about this before but jesus! every single friggin game i see the pens play, no one! not anyone will throw a body into mario! hey fags, this is hockey, i don’t care who you are, you skate into my zone and i’m gonna at least try to knock you off your @ss — it ridiculous — i don’t care if we get a 2 minute penalty, a major for boarding, or whatever the douchebag refs want to throw my way, hit him if he is a threat to our team! plain and simple hit him!!! i went to a devs/pens game a few weeks ago, the devils won 3-1 — i should have been happy right? but no, i have to say that was the worst game i have ever spent money on, EVER!!! not even beloved scott stevens (who sorry to say has lost a step or 2) would go near him at all!!! it was a joke, one time i saw john madden battling against the boards against some penguin, knocking his @ss around, fighting for the puck, it was kicked loose, mario picked it up, madden goes to knock him on his @ss but gets a glimpse and sees it’s MARIO- and then just skates away and let him take the puck!!! come playoff time this sh*t better not happen anymore!

  22. fleury14NYRCHI says:

    ok….overtime…4v4 and 5 minutes is fine, then a shootout…20 minute OT makes the game 40 minutes atleast longer…..terrible..that means the 7 oclock starts arent over until 10:15 or so…and then….they play the next night…terrible!!….Defensemen will be playing 40 minutes…thats ridiculous…and they need spread the schedule out better…for instance the rangers played 31 games in 61 days…so at one point this season they had played 34 games, and the next highest was 28! SAD…the need to do a better job scheduling the NHL season.

  23. rojoke says:

    Better idea on the refs. Scrap the linesmen idea totally and make them all refs. Most of these guys have been around the league long enough to gauge the flow of play, and players tendencies. When the league went to two referees, they forgot to factor in one thing; they didn’t have enough to begin with. They should have offered their senior linesmen referee positions first, then called up linesmen. Even with the dissolution of the IHL, they still don’t have enough quality referees. And if you think there’s more coming through the system, you should check out an AHL game sometime. On a good night, it’s horrible. On a bad night, it’s absolutely atrocious. It’s almost as if they picked a guy out of the crowd and gave him the whistle and a case of beer. And the guys finishes the case before the opening faceoff. Remember the referee’s strike? Take those replacements and have them work the whole season.

    If it wants to salvage anything out of the two-referee system, it has to make up permanent pairings, one senior and one junior, and keep them together for the whole season.

  24. guinsfan4life says:

    This is a good article. I have only come across a topic like this about 2-3 times since I have been reading this site. With that said, I will offer my two cents regarding….

    I think the important thing we have to remember here is that Gary Bettman’s job is to market the National hockey league so it is the most entertaining product we can possibly see. He doesn’t care about hockey traditionalists like yourself, he needs this league to make money, first and foremost. With that said, the changes he made especially the overtime change is to attract more fans to the wide open game, which is obviously more entertaining for the average hockey fan. Your suggestion of another 20 min. period of hockey 5 on 5 would just make people turn off their tv sets because the games would be too long to watch. Also it would increase the strain placed on the players especially those teams who have back-to-back.

    I totally agree with you about the expansion. It is ruining the game.

    I think a more pressing solution to make people watch more hockey would be parity. The only way we can establish some form of parity is to monitor the salaries more consistently, which will come about for the collective bargaining agreement after this year. Fans will be more interested if they feel as though they are at a level playing field with other teams. Do you think fans of the Atlanta Thrashers thought at the beginning of the season that their team would be competing with the Detroit Red Wings to go to the Stanley Cup??? No obviously they don’t. However, if they could, then more fans would be interested.

    So instead of making rule changes, we have to look into the deeper solution of making the National Hockey League a more successful business. The way to do that is to make the league more competitive.

  25. Tradedude says:

    or maybe the players wives come out on the ice nude and refs judge there sexy bodies, and if one doesn’t agree they’ll go upstairs and look at the wives tits in zoom up.

    that’s entertaining…..for men.

  26. Rushing says:

    Perhaps because we already have a lot of people saying their team don’t have enough money to compete with other teams as it is now. Having to pay even more money to Players would raise the Salaries per team even more.

    I think otherwise but………..that’s just me.

  27. Rushing says:

    I agree with rojoke more. There are still too many penalties not called. Hits across the face with sticks, tripping, you name it and it’s out there. One ref isn’t enough!!!!

  28. aafiv says:

    EXACTLY!!! What better incentive to finish the damned game during regulation then staring a 20 minute OT in the face? This extra point here and there for five minutes of avoiding a loss is BS and isn’t cutting down on the ties (I won’t even talk about this OTL nonsense). Besides, teams don’t care about those OT points until March anyhow but they’ll care about having to play 80 minute games and wearing themselves out night after night.

  29. aafiv says:

    The problem with what you’re saying is that the tinkering with the game that has been done is what is making it less attractive – or at least less accessible – to new fans. All of the nonsense that the league has introduced has resulted in lower attendance at NHL games this season and a 30 game decrease in coverage on ESPN.

    If the product is so improved, why are less people interested? If Bettman’s job is to sell the game then he failing in my opinion.

    I do agree with you that this is one of the best articles on this site in a while.

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