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NHL’s first big change from Camp Shanny could be to the nets

Aug 18, 2011, 5:04 PM EST

Brendan Shanahan Getty Images

While the  2011 NHL Research Development and Orientation Camp continues on today in Etobicoke, Ontario there are a couple of changes that are catching the eyes of those in charge right off the bat.

While the league looks to find ways to improve offensive chances and keep the flow of the game rolling along to keep the excitement up, a couple of the methods to switching things up that were tested are earning high marks and could be implemented soon.

While the league is trying out all sorts of potential alterations, the two that are getting very high marks have to do with the net and the goal line. As Chris Johnston reports, making the nets more shallow and adding a second verification line to help with replays are two ideas that are earning high marks.

If you’re wondering how long it could take to implement alterations like this, change could happen a lot sooner than you think as Johnston notes with a quote from the guru of the RDO camp, Brendan Shanahan.

Since the changes being discussed won’t impact the rulebook, the procedure for implementing them is still being ironed out. They’ll likely be used during training camps and exhibition games before the hockey operations department makes a decision on whether they’ll be used during the regular season.

“We’re talking about the process and the steps that would go forward for that,” said Shanahan.

Adding shallower nets seems like a no-brainer kind of move. Giving the players more room behind the net to work and play the puck is a great move that doesn’t have anything to do with moving the nets themselves. In the past we’ve seen how far back the nets go altered to give players more or less room there. Reducing the depth of the net makes far too much sense. To help make replays easier, they’ll make the top part of the net clear plastic so cameras can see straight through.

Adding the verification line along with the clear net tops makes too much sense as well. Having the second line just three inches behind the main goal line means that the puck won’t touch the second line unless it’s fully across the red goal line. By doing that, it eliminates the debate that can erupt on goal replays. While replay can still be foiled on occasion by on-ice official hardheadedness, being able to clear up any and all issues when it comes to debates on goals is a change that makes so much sense it hurts.

While the NHL looked into other things like calling icing on the penalty kill as well as introducing “bear hugging” to try and prevent terrible hits from behind, increasing the flow of the game and keeping the entertainment level high are important things for hockey. After the “dead puck” era of the mid-to-late 90s and early 2000s, introducing anything that means more whistles and slowing down the pace of the game should be an immediate non-starter.

These potential net and goal alterations, however, should get a stronger look during preseason games to see how they play out during a live game. Preseason games don’t count for anything other than getting the guys in shape for the season, and if those new tweaks can work out without issue, there’s no need to hold back from going fully ahead with simple switches that can help get the NHL where they want it to be.

  1. sknut - Aug 18, 2011 at 6:36 PM

    I like these ideas, with how big the players have gotten adding even a few inches to the ice can open chances for teams to score. The second line seems really obvious now and a very good idea as well.

  2. bigbear42 - Aug 18, 2011 at 6:49 PM

    These camps kind of scare me. Every year I worry that they are tweaking the game for the sake of tweaking the game. Changing things for safety is one thing, but dont mess with my beloved sport too much.

  3. donttouchthedirtypenny - Aug 19, 2011 at 6:50 AM

    Not buying the second goal line. What if a puck goes across standing on end, and then is quickly swept out by the defense? Goal should count, but wouldn’t have touched the verification line.

    • sknut - Aug 19, 2011 at 9:41 AM

      I don’t think the line is the be all end all just helping determine if the puck fully crossed the first line or at least that is how I would they use it.

  4. dwil12 - Aug 19, 2011 at 4:45 PM

    instead of the 2nd goal line how about adding 2 small cameras at the base of the goal posts (or just somwhere inside the goal posts) along the goal line so that the replay official can get a better view inside the net.

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