NHL Players speak out

Gentlemen, I’ll be brief.

There is an OUTSTANDING article in The Hockey News in which the players of the NHL were asked what they would change about the game.


This article should be required reading for any HTR “Experts” who frequently suggest altering our beloved sport.

The Hockey News has posed the question to those whose opinion should matter.

Your assignment:

1. Go read the article

2. Come back here and discuss your favorite points.

Highlights – Bobby Holik’s response is a classic. It’s about time a member of the NHLPA spoke candidly.

Steve McKenna’s thoughts on speed in the game are entertaining.

Common threads – Wider rinks, smaller goalie equipment, 1 referee, touch up offsides and moving the nets back.

Thanks and I look forward to hearing from all of you.


31 Responses to NHL Players speak out

  1. eagle29 says:

    I have 2 comments here.Go back to wood sticks because these new ones are too light.Players pick these up and carry them around like feathers.What I mean is that if you go back to the heavier wood sticks you would get harder shots, less sticks breaking, and less high sticks because the weight would make you want to keep it down.

    My second comment is to make the Neutral zone smaller and the offensive zone bigger like Tom Fitzgerald said.By doing this the attacking team would have more space to work with while the defensive team would work harder to get it out.Especially on the penalty kill.

  2. DirtySanchez says:


    I had read the article prior to this and I was listening o a radio broadcasted discussion on it with some high profile hockey personalities a couple of nights ago.

    The same issues about the trap and removal of the redline and so on and so on were repeatedly tapped upon, but I truly believe any changes that have to be made, have to satisfy the masses and unfortunatley the traditionalists.

    1. I found Craig Conroys suggestion to stand out among the rest as he thought that the ever increasing size of the average player has increased considerably, so should the rink. We all know the NHL isn’t going to spend the money to adjust 30 rinks and give up prime time platinum seats, however it is possible to widen the rinks by a couple of feet on each side totalling 5-7 feet. This could also be a small factor in opening up the neutral zone enough for wheeling fowards like Martin St.Louis to penetrate a NJ trap. Calgary has a practice rink that is 7-10 feet wider than the official sized rink and the general concesus seems to be one of approval by the players. Just an idea.

    2. I recently purchased a DVD called Ultimate Gretzky where he goes on the record on saying how he would change the game if he could. His simple suggestions were to restrict the size of the goalie equipment as it is now twice the size and half the weight it used to be in the 70’s and 80’s. Even Gretzky said he was a believer in the redline and found that part of the excitement of the foward was to battle through the neutral zone and I happen to agree with him. More goals and more excitement would definitely not hinder the game and I believe would improve it.

    3. Both Gretzky, Lemieux and in the article Andy MacDondald’s point was the clutching and grabbing. It really needs to be addressed and not just when the refs feel like it.

    Just a few points I wanted to expand upon on how a few suttle changes are possible and probable and might not warrant the bitching and protesting among traditionalists and chicken f**kers like GrtezNYR99 and matteo.

  3. the_expert_44 says:

    “the second the refs see 5 guys skating backwards, call a penalty” –elias

    ironic but a very good idea.

  4. habsoverserver says:

    There is only one way to fix this league. We need old time hockey. No more third man in penalties, no more instigator penalties. Stop calling obstruction. A guy obstructs you, punch him out. You each get two minutes.

    A goalie leaves the net to get the puck, elbow him in the head. They wear enough padding, they will barely notice.

    If nobody likes the one referee system and the two ref system isn’t working, and there are too many penalties anyway go with no refs. It will speed up the game.

    Also, after a team wins the cup, instead of skating around the ice with it, they should invert it over the commisioner’s head and every player gets to whack the cup with his stick a few times. A gift from the players to the fans.

  5. drunkenhooligan76 says:

    I agree…Olde Tyme Hockey is what’s needed. Players policing themselves, less severe penalties. Players won’t obstruct the skaters in the league if they have to worry about going toe to toe with a goon. Also the wooden sticks, limiting equipment size, moving the goal line back, and allowing the goalie to be hit would also make the game better.

    The other thing I think needs to be changed is that in college hockey players should NOT be allowed to wear full shields. Players learn to carry their sticks high when they are protected throughout college then come to the NHL and ruin the game.

  6. Tradedude says:

    I read a few since I’m lazy, and I agree with some. I agree with Holik’s, and Brad Richards’.

    I think I’ve made it clear that I want the 4-on-4 and Brad states some good points. If you havent read his yet, read it.. Very interesting.

    One that i do not agree with..is Tom Fitzgeralds. He wants the neutral zone smaller???? What??

  7. Donovan says:

    Old Time hockey? Eddie Shore.

    Yes, old time hockey is what we need. Players seem too afraid to do anything. People keep saying there aren’t enough calls. Well I think there are too many (inconsistent) calls.

    Roenick is bitching about getting high-sticked? Well, the hell with you JR. Find the guy that did it and beat the shit out of him. Players will learn that way.

    Too much clutching and grabbing for Mario? Mario is huge. Drive thier face into the boards.

    This rest of this season may turn out to be the rapture. Things are starting to get nasty and fighting actually seems to be on the increase. Hell, we’ve even seen the second coming of Big E.

    The NHL should be moving in a direction that embraces roughness and dirty plays. I’m sick of watching fairies prance around the ice. The Nike Hockey commercial has Naslund and Kovalchuk. Naslund is allright but Kovalchuk? He’d piss his pants if he were checked. Old Time Hockey would eliminate the trap. How do you stop the trap? These days it seems that you counter a trap with your own trap. No! You forecheck the hell out of the other team!

  8. Heinzee57 says:

    I too would like to see an effort made to improve the NHL.

    A new commissioner would be the first step.

    2nd (and more related to the article) I would make the changes subtle and more reflective of the glory days that we all miss.

    a) No Instigator – Joe Thornton should go back and study how Cam Neely dealt with guys draped on him. Maybe not with Lindros but with smaller defenseless guys.

    b) Move the nets back – If it’s good enough for Shanny, it sounds good to me.

    c) Touch up offsides – Keep the play going.

    d) Kick the puck in the net – Ted Donato agrees with me. (He too is a Harvard grad) If you have enough ability to direct it past the goal line, you’ve scored.

    e) Hit the GOALIE!! – If you want to come out and play the puck, take your medicine Marty.

    None of these changes are that dramatic and will create more excitement in the game.

    Just think… Kasparitis runs your goalie and you can beat him down and not get the extra 2 minutes.


  9. Enigma says:

    I liked what Marian Gaborik had to say about the illegal stick rule.

    Brett Hull wasn’t asked…damn

  10. Heinzee57 says:

    I blew it…. I missed that one in my last comment.

    Good call.

    Bend them all you’d like Marian.


  11. EmptyNetter says:

    Cripes, but that was a long reading assignment!

    Anyway, to the points:

    1. Eric Lindros — Can we get some new advertisers, please? I mean, how can hockey draw new viewers when they are subjected to endless viewings of the Labatt Blue Bear? And no, my thing doesn’t have a Hemi.

    2. Bobby Holik — Need to balance skilled and physical play. Hockey shouldn’t be like basketball where there is no touching and it shouldn’t be tackle football. If refs let the players play, hooking and grabbing could be dealt with by a well-placed elbow or a shove. Guys would be less apt to hook and grab for fear of retaliation, and they’re not afraid of getting caught now. Refs could intervene if things get rough, i.e. injury or intent to injure.

    3. Tie Domi — More regular input from the players would be a good thing. I mean, you don’t want to constantly be changing the rules every season, but if most of the players complain about the same topics – gruelling schedules, ref non-calls or excessive penalty calls, obstruction, etc. — there should be a forum for discussion and change (before Jeremy Roenick REALLY loses it).

    Taking my cue from Jesus, I’d like to simplify the rules of hockey into own 3 Commandments:

    1. Don’t injure or attempt to injure other players.

    2. Ensure that hockey is a competitive balance of offensive and defensive skills.

    3. Goalies, if you stay in your crease and wear appropriate gear then you can keep your net as is and you won’t get hurt.

  12. Aetherial says:

    Add the tag-up rule.

    No touch Icing is a MUST

    Goalies not allowed to play he puck behind the backline unless they have both feet in the crease. I don’t want to watch Brodeur or Belfour et al play like a 3rd D-man out there.

    Move the backline back the way it was.

    Call obstruction for Christ sakes!

  13. Enigma says:

    how about a penalty to goalies who come out and play the puck ?……that sounds too unrealistic though, I would just go with: if a goalie comes out to play the puck, he can be hit like any other skater.

  14. Enigma says:

    i like all of those suggestions, except i would add what Holik said…..more divisional games…and i forgot who said it, but someone mentioned full 2 minute power plays no matter how many times the teams score.

  15. distance7 says:

    This is something that you really never hear:

    What Jagr was saying made alot of sense.

  16. Enigma says:

    Oleg Saprykin said it in a better way though, so he should be recognized for the comment too.

  17. headpushslap says:

    I agree with Paul Kariya:

    Move the nets back. Nobody scores from behind the net.

    Moving the nets back also makes it harder for goalies to play the puck. With all of their equipment they cannot risk getting caught back there stickhandling. So either the equipment gets smaller, or the goalies get smarter about when to handle the puck.

    Goalies should be protected, but stopping the puck to slow down a forecheck has been part of the game for years, its more of a strategy than a specific play.

    Outlet passing by goalies is a specific play which is currently f’ing up the game, espescially when a Belfour or Turco is halfway to the blueline when he lets it go. This play doesn’t slow down the forecheck, it kills it entirely. This is part of the reason for many teams poor performance on the PP.

    I have an idea of my own for interference, or what we now call ‘obstruction’. Most obstruction occurs on the forecheck, or coming back on the backcheck, since refs watch the puck and the play, go back to one ref, but allow linesmen to call obstruction penalties.

    As far as penalties go, maybe look at a 1minute PP, which does not end on a goal. One bad call won’t sink a team, but if they start getting sloppy, pretty soon they have three or four guys in the box and are giving up 3 or 4 minutes of PP, or many short five-on-threes.

    my 2 cents CDN (1.3 cents USD)

  18. matteo says:

    I actually gained some respect for Bobby Holik. He actually made me tear up a little.

    My ideas:

    – #1 and most important NO INSTIGATOR RULE and for god’s sake let them fight when they drop the gloves, stop trying to break it up.

    – Touch-up offsides

    – no rule on curvature of the stick

    – move the nets back

    – DirtySanchez bobblehead night

    – Make the nets 1/2 inch bigger all on each side and the top. Bigger goalies should mean bigger nets

    – Goalies can play the puck, but they should also get hit. They are players too, and they even have more protective equipment so why not hit them

    – Shootouts after one period of 4-on-4 overtime. People say that 5 shooters should not determine the fate of the game, but isnt that what happens during the game anyway when you think about it. It will be exciting and get rid of those horrible ties.

    – let the minor infractions go and call the hooking and holding penalties. If two guys slash eachother then let it go if it has nothing to do with the play…..let the players play

  19. Wills says:

    The one suggestion that stuck out to me, is making the goaltenders equipment smaller. I think Shanny said it, but if you look at the goalies from the 80’s and compare them with the goaltenders today, its insane how much bigger their equipment is. Goaltender equipment should be used to protect the goalie, not cover up the whole net. There were so many good suggestions, but you don’t want to change the game too much all at once.

  20. devfanman4 says:

    First off assignments always remind me of homework when I was young enough to be in school, so I hate assignments. This one was fun though!

    It seems this has been an ongoing debate all year. I like what a few of the players said in this article. Most of it was the same things over and over again that we’ve heard a million times already.

    How come the Blackhawks make the most sense? I just found it odd that I liked alot of their comments.

    Zhamnov – I’m not saying today’s game is better or worse than 12 years ago (when Zhamnov came into the league). It’s just a new generation of players. It’s the same game, but the players are just faster and bigger. You don’t have the same time to think that you used to have.

    Berard – I think the game is fine the way it is. The biggest thing is we’ve got to get people to the games. We’ve got to somehow do a better job of promoting the game or the personalities in the game. That’s the only way it’s going to grow.

    Bell – A lot of these things they’re talking about are gimmicks. We’ve been playing the game this way our whole lives. These things aren’t going to change the game for better or for worse.

    They all make alot of sense. Players in all sports have evolved and they adapt to new rule changes and things like that. If they change the size of the rink or add a shootout to the end of OT they’re all obvious gimmicks to try to get people to the games. If they keep changing rules eventually people will be calling for an end to offsides to fight the trap. It’ll turn out to be the XHL.

    Joe Sakic also brings up a good point. All these changes they try to throw at the players (new offsides, goalie equipment “regulations, crack down on obstruction) just haven’t changed anything. He said the thing that annoys him is when you get a 2 goal lead, they only call penalties against you. Penalties are penalties and should be called no matter the score or time in the game.

    Sergei Zubov – I have three things. First, one referee. To be honest, we should have none the way they are going, but I definitely think one is better than two. You just have no idea how the game is going to be called right now.

    Haha…I love that one. I agree with this one. Less is more. I think if they went back to the 1 referee system there will be more penalties called.

    Marty Reasoner – I don’t think you can change evolution. Goalies are bigger and smarter and better. It’s probably a better game now in there aren’t as many mistakes. Before it wasn’t as structured.

    Marty brings up some good points here. Back in Gretzky’s world, there was a much larger gap between the best players of the game and the worst. I don’t buy into all that crap about the talent pool being diluted. There was a big wave of Europeans in the late 80s, early 90s who started to weed out the bad North American players. How many goals do you see as a result of turnover? If there aren’t any turnovers, there are less goals.

    Cory Cross: If you make too many changes you risk ruining the game a little bit…I’ve played overseas where they don’t have a red line and teams over there trap it up to, so I don’t think removing the line would help at all. The coaches here are too smart.

    Mike Van Ryn – Some guys want no red line. I’ve played no red line before. It’s fun. It makes it a little faster…But people can still trap in (U.S.) college. Michigan State does it.

    Further proof that the trap will never go away unless they come up with an illegal defense rule, but that’s just dumb.

    Joe Juneau – I’d also put different values on penalties and power plays. If it’s just tripping, for example, the guy gets out of the penalty box if the other team scores. But if it was something where a player could get injured – slashing, elbowing or high-sticking – maybe the guy deserves to spend the full two minutes in the penalty box.

    Original idea and I like it! That would be an excellent idea for the NHL to consider. Look at how many major injuries have been caused this year and in the past because of penalties? If someone knew they would receive “major” 2 min penalty for slashing, they would try not to do it. Then again if the officials don’t shape up there might be a phantom slash called that could result in a team giving up 2 goals in 2 mins.

    John Madden – I’d put the benches on opposite sides of the rink…By moving the benches you’d see more odd-man rushes and changes would become a more vital part of the game because the ice will open up.

    You couldn’t ban the trap…If they’re worried about the trap, taking away the red line would get to the root of it. Then the team with the puck would say, ‘Go ahead, stand there.’

    Madden comments further on the line changes saying that since both teams change on the same side of the ice, sometimes everyone gets all bunched up over there. Having the benches on opposite sides would therefore open up more ice.

    Mike Keane – How about the game is just fine. I might tinker with it by taking out little things like the curvature rule of the stick and allowing goals even if they’re kicked in. I wouldn’t mind seeing the full two minutes served for a penalty but then it goes back to refereeing and it makes them more accountable. Also, if goalies want to leave the crease, they should be fair game.

    Good points from Keane. The game only needs small tinkering. If they start going crazy with everything, no one will understand the game of hockey anymore.

    And yes, Holik and McKenna had the most entertaining comments. Why didn’t they ask Roenick about rule changes? Oh wait, they probably wouldn’t be able to post his response.

    The ideas I like the most are taking away the red line, touch up offsides, all goals count (kicking, batting it out of the air with a high stick, etc), goalies being fair game when they come out of the crease, smaller neutral zone, benches on the opposite sides from each other, CALL THE PENALTIES!, and eliminate the instigator rule. 1-0 games wouldn’t be “boring” if there were alot of fights in the game.

    I think the red line rule should be a trial. If it doesn’t help out, bring back the rule. It’s part of tradition and it makes players think instead of just throwing the puck around. Speaking of tradition, touch up offsides was part of tradition til it was taken away. Batting a puck out of mid air or kicking the puck in shows the incredible skills of these players. Why be penalized for doing something amazing like that? Those are the only “radical” ideas I would go for. All the other ideas I like are minor details that will help enhance the game more in my honest opinion.

  21. Tradedude says:

    But if Primeau runs your goalie..then Primeau has 2 options.

    Option A) 5-on-1 beat down and no call..also the referee later on joins the beat down.

    Option B) Primeau goes in net..Al MacInnis gets to take a shot using the Ol’ woody.

  22. devfanman4 says:

    Finally! I wrote a comment that was cut! I rule!

  23. devfanman4 says:

    I would love to beat down Kasparitis and not get an extra 2 mins!

  24. spazmainia13 says:

    All Billy Guerin would be getting if his idea went through is company in the penalty box.

    I’m a HUGE Guerin fan and allthough his idea wouldn’t fly with the league(or 90% of the players for that matter) i think it’s the only way that obstruction would stop. Players have to start fearing penalties.

    Plus refs are supposed to be the authourity on the ice and nowadays it seems like the players are treating as nusances more than anything.

  25. Megaroset says:

    First, I wanna say what i’ve said a thousand times before – CALL the obstruction. Count how many times in a game there’s clutching and grabbing – you’ll be over 100 in the first 10 minutes. It would open up the game for the skilled players – it’s not rocket science. Second, I know that the season is long and the schedule is tough sometimes, but what about a 10 minute overtime 4 on 4 period? It wouldn’t “fix” the game, but I always think that overtime is never long enough – it’s an exciting 5 minutes, usually over way too quick. 10 minutes would settle more ties, and the extra 4 on 4 hockey would be a treat.

  26. rojoke says:

    I wouldn’t think Brett would need the question to offer the answer.

  27. rojoke says:

    Make the nets 1/2 inch bigger? Please tell me that’s a mistake, and you meant 1/2 foot?

  28. shootinglicense says:

    make scotty bowman the commisioner. can anyone argue with that?

    also i like what garth snow said, “goal equipment should be bigger. sure goalies are already safer than they have ever been, but anymore restrictions and my incompetence will be exposed on a nightly basis. either that or smaller nets. sure lots of goalies are over 4 feet tall nowadays, but there is not a single one who is six feet wide. not being six feet wide puts goalies like myself at an extreme disadvantage. so in summary, bigger equipment, and 4×4 nets.”

  29. shootinglicense says:

    suspensions and fines are ridiculous. $10,000 is chumpchange to even the worst player in the league, and a couple games off from a grueling 82 game schedule for intentionally trying to injure a player better than oneself is a gift vacation not a punishment.

    get a little stricter

    first time offender gets a usual suspension and fine (but of longer duration and greater amount of money)

    second time offenders get raped by a prisoner in front of their family.

    third time offenders get shot in the back of the head (again in front of their families) and then raped by a prisoner once more.

    with these new rules in place i am sure we will see a decline in intent to injure incidents, and finally see the league rid of samuelsons, marchments and their kin.

  30. matteo says:

    yup my bad – thanks for correcting that.

  31. TheJudge says:

    Excellent points! Probably the best post on here.

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