Problems and Solutions Part 2

As mentioned in my previous article, the referees in the NHL have been anything but stellar. What I like to call “quick-fix” rule changes (interference crack-down, bigger crease, moving blue lines ect) have created confusion and inconsistency amongst the officials. The last two seasons, the NHL has put a minimal effort forth, to try and cut back on the clutching, grabbing and interference that nearly choked the league out during the 1990’s. At the start of the 2002-2003 season, watching the NHL was amazing. Games were fast paced, with end-to-end action. Very entertaining. However, the conistency failed to translate over the course of the entire season. By the time the playoff races came around, the league was back to clutch and grab hockey. For the players, this must be a very frustrating environment to play in. From a fan’s standpoint, it is more dissapointing to see the decline, than anything.
It is time for the NHL to evolutionalize itself. Hockey does have a very glorified tradition, especially at the NHL level, but things have changed. The competition is higher, the players are bigger, the shots are harder, the game has become more elite. That is why the NHL needs to revamp it’s rulebook, and create a standard protocol for all it’s officials. A document that can be distributed to all 30 NHL clubs, to create understanding and unity around the entire league.

The NHL Rulebook does not need to be thrown out the window, but rather, it needs to be evaluated, negotiated, and retranslated so that it fits today’s game more affectively. It needs to be done to ensure consistent officiating, as well as increase the level of entertainment for the fans.

Did you know that the fine for a high sticking penalty that injures another player in the face, is $100. For a player making $1,000,000 a season, that is peanuts. A mere joke! Want more? A major penalty, that being of the nature of clipping, checking from behind, spearing, butt-ending ect, a whopping $200 fine is to be issued to the offender. (nhl.com)

The NHL cries out, not understanding why they cannot control their league, I am telling you right here and now, they don’t take this seriously enough. If they did, they would realize that a $100 fine is neither logical, nor impactul to any NHL player. The NHL needs to stop trying to hold themselves accountable for their players, and start putting the pressure on them. It all starts with how you treat them when they do break the rules. Some thoughts I have are:

The penalized player should have to serve the full time of his penalty. If the penalized player’s team is scored on, during his penalty, he should still have to sit out the remainder of his penalty. Missing ice-time has never been big on any players’ list of priorities, neither has more PK time been for coaches. This would also create more PP time for teams, wich would hopefully increase the number of goals scored/game, thus increasing the level of entertainment of the NHL’s product.

The “crack-down” that started last season, should be diligently enforced. Interference calls are killing the game, plain and simple. Add to the 2 minute minor, a $2500 fine for each infraction. Two interference related penalites in a game, would also lead to a 10 minute game misconduct, and an added $5000 fine. The NHL’s “attempt” to fix this problem last season started well but fizzled out by the All-Star game. This area needs to be enforced more than any other, for the betterment of the game.

Martin St. Louis, Ray Whitney, Sergei Samsonov, Paul Kariya and more, all have the ability to carry the NHL with their talents. When the NHL was cracking down on the clutching and grabbing, these smaller players shone. St. Louis and Whitney both notched career highs in points, coincidence, I think not.

The rules of the NHL need to be brought up to speed, to fit today’s game, and the refs need to understand the importance of carrying out a new system to ensure the success of the league. The rulebook needs to be the same for each club. There also needs to be a code of conduct put into place, documented, for the officials, players and coaches alike, so that the league has something to fall back on, when they go to discipline or correct certain behaviour.

I guess what I am trying to get at is, the NHL has no unity between the front office, the owners, the refs and the players. Everybody seems to be out for #1; it is that selfish attitude that has been, and will continue to be cause for many of the problems that the NHL has to deal with.

-MJ-


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