Last season, Golden Knights forward Ryan Reaves fought four times and was voted the victor in each by the fans. Three regular season scraps and one postseason go-around with Evander Kane was a light schedule for Reaves, who normally averages seven fights per year.
Evander Kane vs Ryan Reaves from the San Jose Sharks at Vegas Golden Knights game on Apr 14, 2019 https://t.co/u4kdnF1ev0
“I don’t think we’re ever going to boomerang back. I think we’re going to see decline, after decline, after decline, to the point now that we have new historic lows across the board in hockey fighting.”- Greg Wyshynski, ESPN NHL Reporter
Player safety has been a big reason for the drop off but it’s also becoming difficult to carry fists in a salary cap world. Love him or hate him, Reaves is unique. He has stood the test of time and is preparing for his tenth NHL season.
He’s arguably the toughest guy in the league, but the fact he can play the game and contribute that’s what makes him valuable. That’s where the game is nowadays. There were a lot of players that were pushed out, he was not one of them. Rightfully so. He can contribute to the game and not just for what we’re known for doing. -Shawn Thornton, Former NHL Player
Thornton spoke with me in late February, after the Golden Knights hosted the Florida Panthers. Overall, the retired NHL heavyweight was glad to see the decline in fighting.
In my opinion, intimidation is a part of life. When you’re in an arena that’s two hundred by eighty-five with no out of bounds, it’s amplified. I think there will always be a space in hockey. Sometimes it’s a pressure cooker and a fight will be the thing that pops the top off… but there’s no more room in the league for a one-dimensional guy, and I’m actually very okay with that. -Thornton
Every year the NHL changes a few rules. There a few steps to new rules being put in place with the first being a group of NHL players, coaches, GMs, and owners called the “Competition Committee” getting together to come up with recommendations that are then sent to the GM’s meetings for review.
That group recently met and they came up with six changes they recommend for the 2019-20 season. Here’s what they recommended and how I feel about each of the potential rule changes.
Helmets Off During Play – The Committee recommends work on a rule construct for implementation next season that would reasonably require a player to leave the ice in the event his helmet comes off during play.
It’s kind of surprising this rule hadn’t been put in place already. I’m not even a favor of the word “reasonably” being in this recommendation. Let’s just simplify it, no helmet, no hockey. If you lose your helmet, get the heck off the ice.
Expanded Video Review/Coach’s Challenge – The Committee recommends changes to the Coach’s Challenge and expanded video review, including as it relates to a Referee’s ability to review some of his own calls on the ice. Recommendations will be prepared for the League’s Board of Governors, General Managers and the NHLPA’s Executive Board.
This is fairly vague, so we’ll still have to wait and see what they end up going with for next year. I’ve made it fairly clear how I would like the see the review process changes, both here and on the latest SinBin.vegas Podcast. So we’ll skip this one, but at least we know some change is coming.
Goalies Unnecessarily Freezing Puck – The Committee recommends that the defensive team not be permitted a line change when a goalie freezes the puck on any shot from outside the center red line. The offensive team will have the choice of which end zone dot the face-off will take place.
Absolutely love this rule and hope it’s the beginning of more rules banning goalies from freezing the puck. This particular one is a simple change that won’t effect the game much at all, but it’s opening the door for more.
I’d like to see the rule go as far as, no freezing the puck unless the goalie is in the crease. I’d also like to see referees and linesmen be a little more proactive forcing goalies to put the puck back in play. If the goalie doesn’t oblige, use the NBA’s style of delay of game where there’s one warning before a penalty is called.
At the All Star Game Commissioner, Gary Bettman and Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly held a press conference to chat about the pressing league issues. The main topics were player and puck tracking (which is going to be awesome), CBA negotiations, and the scoring increase and parity in the league. One thing that wasn’t touched on was rules of the game.
Recent rule changes like the change in goalie pads, the implementation of a 2-minute penalty for a failed offside challenge, and if we go back a bit further, the trapezoid have impacted the game heavily, but there are still many things the league can do to improve the sport as a whole.
That’s where I come in. If you don’t know much about me my favorite part of all of sports is the rules. I love sports rulebooks, maybe even more than I love the games themselves. I’ve read the NHL rulebook cover to cover three times and I intend on doing it again every single offseason that I cover hockey. In doing so, my mind is always triggered to minor and major rule changes I’d love to see enacted by the NHL. Today, I present five, starting with the least invasive one and moving up to the crazier ones.
Rule Change 1 When a period ends with a team on the power play, the face-off to open the following period should be taken from the offensive zone of the team on the man advantage.
Currently, all start of period draws are taken at center ice. Normally, that would make sense, but when a team is on a power play, the end of the period is actually a bonus to the team who committed the penalty. It’s a free zone exit when the game-clock hits 0:00. Why? Instead, if there is still time on the power play clock, the draw should occur in the offensive zone, like how most power plays start. It’s a simple rule change, and it makes way too much sense not to enact as soon as possible.
Rule Change 2 For the purpose of offside, the blue line should act as a vertical plane.
In order to enter the zone properly, the puck must fully cross the blue line before every player. To determine this, the league uses players’ skates physically touching the ice. It leads to many incredibly close calls along the blue line in which even on super slow-mo we can’t tell when the player lifted his foot. Throw that in the garbage, instead, view the blue line like the endzone in football. If any portion of a players body (with the exception of their stick) is even with the vertical plane created by the blue line they will be determined to have not yet entered the zone.
It will make calls on the ice easier for linesman and it will make reviews much easier for the Situation Room in Toronto. It’s a simple change and will be a bit tricky to write into the rules, but it’s a good change that will help the game in the long term.
Rule Change 3 EITHER Allow the full two minutes to run off the clock before allowing a player out of the penalty box (even if a team scores) OR Enforce icing during power plays
It was a wild sequence that was only made wilder by the in-arena entertainment team jumping the gun. Nate Schmidt slid a backhand towards the goal and Oscar Lindberg collected the rebound to score, but while that was going on two Blackhawks and Tomas Nosek were all sent crashing into Corey Crawford creating a mess in front of the goal.
The puck was in the net, as were multiple players, the net was dislodged, and Crawford was asking for goalie interference. There was quite a bit to sort out, and unfortunately, it’s not always clear what’s exactly going on. So, here’s a look at exactly what happened and why each call was made the way it was per the NHL Rulebook.
What were the calls on the ice?
The play was initially ruled no goal because the net was dislodged before the puck crossed the goal line. The officials then reviewed the play and determined the puck did cross the line prior to the goal coming off, but there was goaltender interference. This determination is made by the officials in the arena. Vegas then challenged the call, thus sending the review to the NHL Situation Room in Toronto. Toronto confirmed that there was goalie interference and the play shall be ruled no goal.
Why was the play reviewed originally?
NHL rules allow officials in the arena to review goals under nine difference circumstances (posted at the end of this article). The puck crossing the line prior to the goal being dislodged is one of the nine. Once the review is initiated, the officials are now also allowed to determine goaltender interference.
So if the play has already been reviewed, why did Vegas get to challenge and subsequently lose their timeout?
The initial review is triggered by one of the nine circumstances that allow for review. The decision to review the play is made by the “Video Goal Judge.” Coaches are only allowed to challenge under two circumstances (goalie interference and offside). The Video Goal Judge and in-arena officials make the determination on video reviews triggered by one of the nine circumstances, the NHL Situation Room in Toronto has the final decision when a coaches challenge is made.
So, Vegas challenged the official’s decision and wanted the Situation Room to make a ruling on the play. The Situation Room agreed with the ruling and thus Vegas loses their timeout.
Does there have to be conclusive evidence to overturn the in-arena officials decision?
If a review is not conclusive and/or there is any doubt whatsoever as to whether the call on the ice was correct, the original call on the ice will be confirmed. -NHL Rulebook, Rule 78.7
Why does that matter in this case?
It’s the only reason why there are two reviews. Part of the process for the coaches challenge is that there is an “original call on the ice.” Without an original call, the Situation Room does not have a standard as to which they must overturn. The call on the ice is the standard and only conclusive evidence can overturn that call. So, the in-arena officials have to make their ruling before they send it to Toronto. They made their ruling in the first review, the Situation Room made theirs in the second one.
The standard practice is that if the call is “confirmed” it means there is video evidence to support the ruling on the ice, if the call “stands” it means there was not video sufficient evidence to overturn the call and thus the call on the ice was used.
In the case of this call, the NHL “confirmed” the goalie interference.
After reviewing all available replays and consulting with the Referee, the Situation Room confirmed the “no goal” call because the actions of Vegas’ Tomas Nosek caused Chicago’s Andreas Martinsen to contact Corey Crawford prior to the puck crossing the goal line. -NHL Situation Room
How does the NHL define goaltender interference?
The entire rule, which is long and quite drawn out, is posted at the bottom of this article, however, there’s one portion that explains it fairly succinctly.