5 Things the NHL Needs to Change in 2015

1. Goaltender Interference

Here’s the official ruling on what can be reviewed, via NHL.com, under Rule 38.4:

“(viii) The video review process shall be permitted to assist the Referees in
determining the legitimacy of all potential goals (e.g. to ensure they
are “good hockey goals”). For example (but not limited to), pucks that
enter the net by going through the net meshing, pucks that enter the
net from underneath the net frame, pucks that hit the spectator
netting prior to being directed into the goal, pucks that enter the net
undetected by the Referee, etc. This would also include situations
whereby the Referee stops play or is in the process of stopping the
play because he has lost sight of the puck and it is subsequently
determined by video review that the puck crosses (or has crossed)
the goal line and enters the net as the culmination of a continuous
play where the result was unaffected by the whistle (i.e., the timing of
the whistle was irrelevant to the puck entering the net at the end of a
continuous play).”

The NHL made progress this year with adding to this rule. They determined that the situations where there was intent to blow the whistle, or situations where the puck may have gone out of play, are now reviewable. However, this still excludes the instance where there is possible goalie interference.

This has been a point of contention in the NHL for a long time. A player on the attacking team makes contact with the opposing goalie as a result of being pushed in by the defender. The result of the play is no goal, because all the referee saw was contact between the attacking player and goalie. Sometimes it even yields an unwarranted penalty.


In the video above, Hartnell was clearly forced into the goalie by the defender’s momentum, however, the referee only saw Hartnell make contact with Brodeur, and deemed that he forced Brodeur into the net. The Flyers lost the game. It was an non-reviewable play by the NHL’s rules.

Simply put, this needs to change. Calls related to goaltender interference are so controversial as it is, and not permitting review on them has caused some very bad calls. In the Flyers case, this was a huge non-call. The Flyers were fighting for every point in the standings, and they missed out on at least one extra point by having this goal disallowed. That can’t happen.

The NHL needs to make goaltender interference a reviewable play on goals.

2. The Kicking Motion.

The official ruling, as per rule 49.2:

“49.2 Goals – Kicking the puck shall be permitted in all zones. A goal cannot
be scored by an attacking player who uses a distinct kicking motion to
propel the puck into the net with his skate/foot. A goal cannot be
scored by an attacking player who kicks a puck that deflects into the
net off any player, goalkeeper or official.
(i) A kicked puck that deflects off the body of any player of either team
(including the goalkeeper) shall be ruled no goal.
(ii) A kicked puck that deflects off the stick of any player (excluding the
goalkeeper’s stick) shall be ruled a good goal.
A puck that deflects into the net off an attacking player’s skate who
does not use a distinct kicking motion is a legitimate goal. A puck that
is directed into the net by an attacking player’s skate shall be a
legitimate goal as long as no distinct kicking motion is evident. The
following should clarify deflections following a kicked puck that enters
the goal:
(iii) A goal will be allowed when an attacking player kicks the puck and
the puck deflects off his own stick and then into the net.
(iv) A goal will be allowed when a puck enters the goal after deflecting off
an attacking player’s skate or deflects off his skate while he is in the
process of stopping.”

As long as I have been around hockey, I have never come to an understanding of why you can’t kick the puck into net. You can use your feet to pass, win a faceoff, and play the puck along the boards, but not put it in the net? Doesn’t seem to add up.

Why shouldn’t that goal be allowed to count? Briere kicked that puck from about 10 feet out in the slot. Brodeur just missed it, that should be on him.

Of course, there should be limitations if the NHL ever did change the rule. You don’t want to see players doing things like punting the puck into the net, but if the puck is on the ice around the net and the attacker can only use his foot to put in the net, by all means that should be a good goal. It still takes a pretty good degree of skill.

It’s a new idea and a pretty radical change, but it’d be worth a shot and would definitely increase scoring and force goalies to control their rebounds. It would also take a lot of gray area out of the game with regards to the “distinct kicking motion”.

3. Overtime.

Right now, the NHL’s regular season overtime consists of a 4 on 4, 5 minute, sudden death period. The first team to score wins the game. If no one is able to score after the 5 minutes is up, then the game gets decided in a shootout. It’s time to change that.

A lot of people knock on the shootout for being purely a skills competition and not very indicative of the game that was actually played. In essence, it is a momentum killer, that being said, don’t forget there was a time in the NHL when a game could end in a 0-0 tie. The shooutout is progress.

I do think this will change very soon. The AHL has adopted a totally new overtime format for this season, and it has led to a drastic decrease in the amount of games that have gone to a shooutout. It’s very plausible that this model could be used in the NHL, and even better, 3 on 3 hockey creates some serious entertainment and forces coaches to strategize even more. It might not be the radical fix that anyone is looking for, but it could certainly be a welcome sight for those shootout critics.

Nearly 35% of the overtime games in the AHL have been decided in the 3 on 3 portion of overtime. If 3 on 3 is that successful in the AHL, can you imagine the pace it would bring to an NHL game?

It’s a great idea that the NHL should adopt for the beginning of next season.

4. Shootouts.

And no, I’m not talking about getting rid of them.

Changing the shootout could be beneficial to the NHL.

Right now, the NHL has a three round shootout and no player can re-shoot until every skater has shot at least once. Why not change this? The IIHF has a three round shootout, but after the first three shooters, you can reuse a shooter as many times as you would like.

Tell em’, Herb.

The IIHF’s format created a showdown for the ages between TJ Oshie and Sergei Bobrovsky in the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Oshie’s heroics launched US fans into an absolute frenzy early on a Saturday morning.

If the NHL is going to keep shootouts (which they should), then why not adopt the IIHF’s format? Who wouldn’t want to see, say, Patrick Kane bearing down on Jonathan Quick, 5 times in a shootout that goes extra time. It makes a skills competition personal, it creates battles. What if the 2o rounder between the Caps and Panthers had repeat shooters? It’d be pretty awesome to see Alex Ovechkin bearing down on Roberto Luongo multiple times.

Everyone saw what it did in the 2014 Olympics. For any US fan, that win felt like a hard fought battle. Shooter versus goalie, 1 on 1. The win still would have been awesome if Oshie didn’t take all of those shots, but something about him shooting over and over again until he won it, just made the win even better.

Adopting this format would add a new dynamic to something that has become relatively bland over the years. It’s a good idea that would better the NHL’s skills competition.

5. Suspensions.

Last, but surely not least, a department where the NHL is failing miserably, suspensions.

A few weeks ago, I talked about how the NHL’s repeat offender policy is really creating repeat offenders. It needs to change.

This is a league that prides itself on punishing those pesky repeat offenders, the guys who need to be taught a lesson. Well, clearly, that system is

Raffi Torres
(Matt Kartozian-US PRESSWIRE)

not working. Do you think if James Neal was punished appropriately the first time, that he would have developed the reputation he did? It’s pretty sad when even a retired NHL official realizes that the discipline system isn’t doing their job.

If it’s a players first suspension and he has no history, but the hit is absolutely brutal, why should that player receive a diluted suspension? If you think about it, that makes no sense. It’s essentially telling the player to go out and do it again, because all you have to worry about is a slap on the wrist.

Take the case study of Raffi Torres and James Neal.

Raffi Torres is a notoriously dirty player, there are no two ways about that. He is most notorious for the blind side hit that knocked out Marian Hossa.

This hit earned Torres the third-longest suspension in NHL history, but what’s even more important is what happened before that. Torres had a history of very questionable hits. Hits that could have severely injured players (but thankfully didn’t). The NHL continually hit him with small suspensions and fines, none of which were changing his ways. Surprise! Torres finally severely injured someone, had Torres been handed a steep suspension earlier in his career, I doubt this ever happens.

Then there is James Neal. The poster child for getting away with murder in the NHL. James Neal has had a long history of very dirty, very dangerous hits in the NHL. Including the two (in one shift) that you will see below, for which he received a whopping one game suspension.

That one game suspension certainly didn’t change his ways, just ask Luke Glendening or Brad Marchand.

It’s a desperate change needed in the NHL. This is a league that wants to expel dirty hits from the game, yet they themselves are the ones failing the set the tone. Suspending a guy one game from a brutal charging call and elbow in the same shift essentially sends the message that you can do it again.

It’s still going on today, it has created a breeding ground for guys like John Scott and Raffi Torres to thrive and hunt down other players. It’s 2015 and the NHL needs to make it a point to crack down on these things.


32 thoughts on “5 Things the NHL Needs to Change in 2015”

  1. Not allowing a kicked in goal is just part of the rules. I like it and it should stay this isn’t soccer it’s hockey. Use your stick to score a goal because eventually you will see players go out of their way to score and will turn in a joke. You’re a horrible writer for suggesting that rule should change.

  2. Definitely against the kicking, and if you think that shootouts are skills competions then 3 on 3 would basically be the same thing. I don’t think players should be allow to catch the puck or handle it at all with their hands. Shootouts should stay the same. Should be able to review GT inference because I’ve seen some bad goals in that respect this season.

  3. In the case of the dirty hit, make it reviewable for a penalty when it is so obvious that the hit was dirty. The coach can call for the review, the captain, the assistant captain, etc.

    I always thought a player could not be hit that did not have the puck. If not this would be a good rule to speed up the game. The hits would become cleaner at the very least. Thuggery is slowing the game down.
    Boost the fines and length of suspensions. The ref should be able to call any penalty for this up to and including a game misconduct and a report to the NHL of the same.

  4. What I dislike about overtime is the fact that there are two sets of rules for it…regular season vs. playoffs. Make it uniform throughout.

    I would get rid of the slashing penalty for breaking a stick that is made of composite material. Stupid rule.

    I’d also get rid of the delay of game penalty for clearing the puck over the glass without a deflection.Worthless rule.

  5. 1. No touching the puck, be like soccer, no touching.
    2. Any hit that is made to injure a player, that player should be out for the rest of the game. I see some teams hit players for the right reason, to seperate them from the puck. Then you have some teams where the players run around trying to injure the players from the other team.
    3. Take away off-sides, let the ice open up and spread out. You want to see more scoring, then take away off-sides.
    4. If puck goes over the net while in the defensive zone but there wasn’t even an offensive player in the zone, no penalty.
    5. 4 on 4 for OT1, 3 on 3 for OT2. Game over.

  6. OT should be 5 minutes with the home team on a PP. That’s right! 5 on 4 for five minutes.

    There should be a “home field – or here ice obviously – advantage. For the money ticket buyers shell out to see a game these days you BETTER beLIEVE they deserve to go home happy.

    Unfair to the visiting team? Well of course it is! But so what? They’ll get the same advantage when they’re on their home ice. And who knows maybe they’ll get a shorty?

    Someone call NHL HQ, the league needs a new guy at the top – Me!

    • Yeah, because no other team or their fan base ever bitches about blown calls, or seeing their players get hit with little to no repercussions. That this is all you got out of this article is comical. You must be a Penguins fan.

    • Do Pittsburgh fans do ANYTHING except comment on how perceivably terrible every Flyers fan is? Yes we are all carbon copies of everyone else in the world. And yes, Crosby does cry a whole lot.

  7. Video replay reviews can slow down the game too much. I think the experience in the NFL is a good example, they had to back off some just because the flow of the game was being disruptive. So I’d agree to slowly add reviewable calls. Kicking at the puck in front of the crease is fine until someone gets killed. I hate shoot-outs, refuse to watch them. But then again, I’m perfectly fine with tie games, if you can’t beat them in 60 minutes, you don’t deserve 2 points.

  8. Reduce the amount of equipment allowed to be worn by the goalie. It is ridiculous the massive kneepads and arm pads worn. Let’s get some more scoring! Start off overime with 3 on three for the first 2 minutes the two on two for 2 minutes then one on one until finish.

  9. #1 – Agreed, but I’d like to extend this to other scenarios as well. Delay of game for the puck going over the glass, high sticks that draw blood (and still get only 2 minutes), instigating a fight after a clean hit (something that rarely gets called), … if we’re going to have video replay, it could easily (and by and large, quickly) be used in instances like these to get calls right and penalties assessed correctly.

    #2 – Jakko has it right on which kicking the puck into the net isn’t allowed. I’m not *that* bothered by the idea of goals scoring via kicking the puck in – but since the premise of the sport is to use a stick to control the puck, it kind of makes sense to stick to that as much as possible.

    #3 – We don’t need further changes to OT to make it less like what we see in the regulation. 4-on-4 at least happens at some point in most games during regulation; 3-on-3 rarely happens in any game. If “get a goal to decide a game in OT and avoid a shootout” is really that important, then go 4-on-4 with no goalie (something that happens only slightly less than 3-on-3). I still want (and have long campaigned for) 3 points for regulation wins, but only 2 for wins post-regulation. (I’m fine with a point for losing post-regulation; forcing the opposition to have to play more than 60 minutes to secure a win should count for something.) You want to encourage teams to go for a win? Make winning in the first 60 minutes worth more than winning in the next 5; teams will respond accordingly.

    #4 – I hate the shootout. Have always hated it. But, if we’re going to have a gimmick thing to decide the result of a game because someone has decided a hard-fought 1-1 tie or a sloppy 3-3 tie has to end with someone being declared a winner, then go full gimmick. Props, half-goals if the skater can put in the rebound, obvious banana blades, … put it all in.

    #5 – Should this be changed? Probably. Will it? Not without the approval of the NHLPA, since it’s collectively bargained. Good luck getting the Brothers Fehr to agree to that; there’s a better chance they get “high quality bath robes” to go with the “high quality bath towels” in the exercise rooms that they got negotiated into the current CBA. I’m much rather get the Department of “Player Safety” to be consistent in deciding when players should be suspended in the first place, and actually hand out stiff punishments instead of the 1-game or 2-game, or “maximum fine” slap on the wrists it doles out at times.

  10. i totally agree with #’s 1, 2 & 5. for #’s 3&4 i think they should just go back to the way it was. if after 60 minutes of play two teams battle to a tie then that should be it. each team goes home with a point. it’s no secret overtime was initiated to generate revenue. at best i can only agree that a five minute o/t, 4 on 4 sudden death is tolerable. but the skills competition afterwards? pure garbage. save that for the all-star game.
    for #5 i believe punishments for dangerous hits and any intent to injure infractions are dealt with way too softly. it should have started years ago when todd bertuzzi cross checked steven moore from behind and broke his neck ending moore’s career. that should have been it for bertuzzi as well. granted, he did get a lengthy suspension and moore won some money in a civil suit but the guy’s career was ended and so should have bertuzzi’s. i believe, and many other hockey fans agree with me, a suspension should be as long as the injured and player is unable to play. taking it one step further, if a player has had multiple suspensions for violent behavior causing opponents to suffer significant injuries, a la matt cooke, their contracts should be terminated and they should no longer be allowed to play in the nhl ever again. this, i believe, would effectively eliminate this kind of play. fans pay their money to see star players and even lesser players play. only the home team fans (pittsburgh/matt cooke) get a kick out of seeing an opposing player seriously injured. imho there is no place for guys like raffi torres, matt cooke, milan lucic and all the others on the bad boy list in today’s game. the only reason they’re still around is because the idiots who own the teams think this kind of play increases revenue. get these fools out of the league and see how much more revenue the teams generate for them.

  11. Missing the elimination of the overtime loss point here! As for kicking the puck in that should NOT be allowed! Why stop there if you allow that? Surely then players can bat the puck down with their hand and score. Also if players are kicking with sharp skates in close proximity to the goalie, this is dangerous.

  12. Kicking should not (and probably will not) ever be allowed because it isn’t soccer. Think about some of the pretty plays that result from having to use your stick. Chip plays, spin moves, and amazing passes to a more open player. If you allow kicking the game would devolve into crashing the net and kicking repeatedly at loose pucks instead of working for the body position necessary to score. It would be ugly, require no skill, and put more of those big nasty players that nobody likes in the game because just think how easily they could box out and kick at a loose puck without needing any ability to handle a puck. There is a reason the idea of allowing for kicked pucks to be goals is ever brought up, and that is that it is just plainly and obviously not hockey.

  13. I agree with all but the kicking. I’ve always understood it to be a safety issue. I still have a scar just below my right ear from when I was 13 I went down in front of the net and got whacked in the neck with a stick by someone trying to knock the puck in the goal. I can only imagine if it had been a skate from somebody trying to kick it in. That area of the ice is just too crowded to have people trying to kick the puck in. The safety concerns outweigh the occasional controversial goal/no goal.

  14. I want to add 1 more aspect to the Shootout: Any player in the Penalty Box when OT ends (and the Shootout begins) is Ineligible for the SO until/unless every skater on the team takes a shot. If you got a Penalty in OT and couldn’t serve the entire 2 minutes you need to make sure your “punishment” continues in the SO. Thoughts on this one?

    • A very good idea that the IIHF actually has as a part of their shootout rules already. Any player who is in the box at the end of the overtime isn’t permitted to shoot at all.

  15. Goalie equipment needs to get smaller or make the net a few inches bigger. Everyone wants more goals, don’t change it too much, just enough to add a goal or 2/game. Also, allow olympic size rinks. Eventually going to the bigger rink will remove the goons from the game!

  16. As Jakko pointed out, kicking is about player safety. No need to have offensive players kicking at the puck in a goal mouth scrum. However, the inconsistency in determining what is a distinct kicking motion is ridiculous. Sliding skates along the ice or deflecting should be ok. Unfortunately, too many times the reviewers decide that is a distinct kicking motion.

    Suspensions are a tough one too as the player’s union is there to challenge any suspension they feel is too much. The league gets a lot of heat here but people need to remember the union’s role. Progressive discipline and historical context is a staple in most disciplinary programs where a union is involved.

    Agree on the overtime changes but the shootout is a silly skills competition no matter how it’s done.

    Goaltender interference should be reviewable by the on-ice officials.

    P.S. – Intent to blow still exists.

  17. What is wrong with a 0-0 tie? The going to shootouts is a bunch of crap. It is not any part of the game. It is a skills expedition only. If the game ends with a tie, great. And the allowing kicking goals, is wrong. You are going to have more and more injuries with blades fr players reaching with their skates and getting knocked over and cutting other people. This happens now and would just get worse.

  18. Easiest thing to change is the offside ,it was designed to stop cherr picking. No offsides called if the defense has at least 2 skaters in thier zone. No more checking up,teams could keep the presurre on. Game would speed up and great play would be the norm. How cheesy for a team to dump the puck and the other team needs to leave and start over!!!!!!

  19. Honestly in regards to discipline, a suspension should be a suspension regardless of your history. Chris Neil has belted out how many over the line/ugly hits that others would’ve received a suspension for but not once has been suspended because, during that time, he was not a “repeat offender”. If you never get tagged a small suspension b/c you’re not a repeat offender, you’ll continue to get away with further suspension b/c you lack that tag. They should be more inclined to throw one game suspensions at “non-repeat” offenders instead of turning a blind eye on cheap hits b/c they’ve never been suspended before.

  20. I can see the reasoning behind not allowing kicked in goals for the safety of the players. I know I would not like to have sharp skate blades kicking in my face if I was a goalie. How many accidental cuts do we have already (some of which are life threatening; ask Richard Zednik) without being allowed to kick the puck into the net.

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