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Brian Burke wants to see NHL use larger ice surface

Jun 2, 2013, 12:08 PM EDT

Brian Burke AP

Former Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke is keeping busy scouting for the Anaheim Ducks, but it doesn’t stop him from thinking of ways to help evolve the NHL.

Burke tells Kevin Paul Dupont of The Boston Globe he’d like to see the league adopt a larger ice surface to help provide room for players that continue to get bigger, faster, and stronger.

“By and large, we’re still playing on the same-sized surface on which the 5-foot-9 Leo Boivin was deemed the feared hitter of his day,” said Burke. “Our players are bigger and faster now, and if that changes, it’s only going to increase.

“A wider rink should allow for more playmaking, more scoring, better power plays… overall, a greater emphasis on skill, but still with plenty of hitting. No one wants to turn hockey into a non-contact sport.”

Burke’s idea is to make the ice a bit wider and expand to either 90 or 92-feet. Currently, NHL-sized ice is 85-feet wide while the International standard is 100-feet. He also adds he’s got the support of Penguins GM Ray Shero and Islanders GM Garth Snow when it comes to the issue.

With players just getting bigger, it makes sense to also make the playing surface larger. Getting arenas to eliminate a few rows of seating to make it work, however, might prove to be the  toughest part of it all.

  1. ipaintrinks - Jun 2, 2013 at 12:28 PM

    yeah just go ahead and tear up every existing floor because that won’t cost millions of dollars

    • slickdemetrius - Jun 2, 2013 at 8:53 PM

      Fine, leave it as is because I’m quickly losing interest in sumo hockey where the main goal is the big hit rather than playing for puck control. Not to mention half the player membership is as talented as a sumo.

  2. hockeyflow33 - Jun 2, 2013 at 12:36 PM

    It would completely change the game but it would be cool to go back to the old days where you allowed teams to have different sized rinks. Allow the teams to install Olympic-sized rinks if they want and there would be a real home ice advantage.

    • gospitfires - Jun 2, 2013 at 2:55 PM

      i like the standard size arena in every city. Baseball for all its charms with parks having dif dimensions effects the game to much. a guy like Curtis Granderson goes from hitting 20 HRs in comerica to hitting 40 at yankee stadium is out of whack. i like the level playing field, from a field itself standpoint the NHL currently has.

      • lionstigersandwingsohmy - Jun 2, 2013 at 8:53 PM

        I understand what you are trying to say, but your analogy is a little flawed. Grandersons swing was altered by the Yankees hitting coach and that contributed to his increase in HRs.

      • greatminnesotasportsmind - Jun 2, 2013 at 9:52 PM

        Or he hasn’t been busted using PEDs… yet

  3. equator180 - Jun 2, 2013 at 12:38 PM

    The idea is very interesting and can’t see why it could not be put in place in a few years time but please Mr. Burke, if you don’t want to wear a tie, don’t put one on, your forever fashion statement of your shirt open and your tie slack and sloppy to one side is getting old..

  4. 950003cups - Jun 2, 2013 at 12:53 PM

    Brian Burke’s opinion has sunk to sub-Avery levels since he started sending posters a subpoena via email. LOL

    BURKE! YOU’RE A LOSER! Go make handbags or something. Just go away! FAR FAR AWAY.

    I better be careful. I might get a subpoena in the reply section.

    • Brian Burke - Jun 2, 2013 at 5:33 PM

      Ill see you in court 950003cups

  5. tdrusher225 - Jun 2, 2013 at 12:54 PM

    I love this idea. It meets a happy medium between the current, somewhat congested, ice sheets and the Olympic-size sheets that seem to encourage a lack of physicality. Burke has got the right idea and the NHL should get on board.

    • valoisjoeybfeld69 - Jun 2, 2013 at 2:49 PM

      Can the bigger surface reduce injuries? On the one hand d men may have more time to make a play going back for the puck, and removing the trapezoid will allow the goalie to help his d men. If the game opens up more there can be more neutral zone hits which can cause more injuries. Hmm! Not sure increasing the rinks is a good thing.

    • polegojim - Jun 2, 2013 at 3:29 PM

      FINALLY…something Burke and I agree on!

      Open it up, give them room to skate and operate.

      The game will get quicker and talent cream will rise even further to the top.

      I don’t think there would be more neutral zone hits…You can’t hit what’s harder to catch.

      Many hits occur because a player can’t navigate out of tight areas and is a sitting duck.

      Do it NHL! More ICE!

  6. thompsonatl - Jun 2, 2013 at 1:08 PM

    I am sure decreased seating capacity on one of the highest price seats and less revenue is just what owners would love. Shut up Burkee.

    • atwatercrushesokoye - Jun 2, 2013 at 2:40 PM

      You’re thinking about it wrong, the seats that disappear are the ones at the top, the high value ones stay the same.

      • hockeydon10 - Jun 2, 2013 at 4:17 PM

        If one wishes to get right down to the fine details, there would be a very slight increase in the number of rink-side seats due to the larger circumference of the 92 ft. ice.

      • billranford - Jun 2, 2013 at 5:41 PM

        Good point. The costs of removing the seats could be offset a little by the addition of a few extra front row seats and a marginal overall ticket price increase. Get it done!

  7. sjsharks66 - Jun 2, 2013 at 1:22 PM

    Why? Stop changing the game to appeal to people who don’t watch hockey.

    • valoisjoeybfeld69 - Jun 2, 2013 at 2:51 PM

      yeah! Like I’m sure Burke is concerned about people who don’t watch the game. TD for you.

    • Brian Burke - Jun 2, 2013 at 5:36 PM

      Maybe he was thinking about the safety of players too. Or how it could be fun to see more creativity, I’m sure you’d enjoy seeing guys like Couture, Marleau, Burns, etc on bigger ice. Sometimes you gotta think before you post

  8. dsonashville28 - Jun 2, 2013 at 1:32 PM

    If the rules were called according to the rulebook, ice size wouldn’t be an issue. If rinks were expanded in size, there would be more skating, less hitting, and less scoring. The Swedish Elitserien is an example of the kind of hockey fans could expect to see. I don’t think Americans and Canadians would accept lower scoring games with less hitting.

    The rules being called as they were in 2004-05 coming out of the lockout would be enough to get the excitement back in the game. The league let the standards slide back, and it gets even worse when the playoffs begin. Call the rules strictly by the book, whether regular season or post season.

    • billranford - Jun 2, 2013 at 5:43 PM

      High talented players need time and space to dazzle. Bigger ice = more space. It’s a no brainer.

  9. desertfan - Jun 2, 2013 at 1:35 PM


    Ya man if we take out rows one and two we won’t have a row 1 and 2 anymore??

  10. adambballn - Jun 2, 2013 at 1:37 PM

    Any truth to the rumor that he impregnated half of the staff at the Toronto Tim Hortons?

    • Brian Burke - Jun 2, 2013 at 5:36 PM

      If you say this one more time i’ll take you to court for it

  11. pensman29 - Jun 2, 2013 at 1:45 PM

    I like the idea, and a certainly see why Shero likes it too.

  12. stefet - Jun 2, 2013 at 1:52 PM

    I think it’s a great idea! Don’t go as big as Olympic size ice… But a little adjustment def needs to be made. It feels like these players now a days literally have no room to make plays. And these aren’t the highest priced seats either…. You couldn’t pay me to sit right at the glass…hope they consider it

  13. blomfeld - Jun 2, 2013 at 1:52 PM

    Fact: the NHL’s rink specifications originate from the ice surface of the Victoria Skating Rink in Montreal, constructed in 1862, where the first indoor game was played in 1875. Its ice surface measured 62.2 metres (204 ft) × 24.3 metres (80 ft). The curved corners are considered to originate from the design of the Montreal Arena, also in Montreal, constructed in 1898.

    Burke is bang on, as the NHL will eventually either change to a larger ice surface by choice, or it will be compelled to do so whether it likes it or not. It’s almost ‘laughable’ when you consider the NHL is still being played on specifications that were designed during the American Civil War ! Can you imagine if the US Marines were still using muzzle-loaded muskets or if the US Postal Service still used horses (Pony Express) to deliver the mail ? The game today is sadly being reduced to an ‘arena’ type” UFC idiot spectacle, where violence and savagery are taking the place of skill and creative play. Anyone younger wouldn’t know the difference, as they’re a product of this mindless ‘ersatz’ generation. But those of us ‘forty or better’ know only too well what’s sadly happening here. Fortunately for us however, we’ve had the privilege of enjoying the game in days gone by when it was played the way it was meant to be played …

  14. northstarnic - Jun 2, 2013 at 2:08 PM

    Thank you Captain Obvious! Won’t happen though, at least not any time soon. Would just be too costly to make the changes and lose the seating.

    • valoisjoeybfeld69 - Jun 2, 2013 at 3:03 PM

      Make the changes and pass on the cost to advertisers and paying customers.

  15. ironmike778 - Jun 2, 2013 at 5:31 PM

    Sure, why not. Wipe out a bunch of seats then jack up ticket prices yet again.

  16. poonerman - Jun 2, 2013 at 10:52 PM

    a smaller ice surface forces people to bump into each other with greater frequency. a woman covering the sport could become accidentally impregnated that way. purely by accident – i’d never imply otherwise.

  17. 2qswing - Jun 3, 2013 at 9:21 AM

    This is a great idea that needs to happen.
    Right now teams have one or two goal scorers if they’re lucky and then pack their rosters with marginally skilled linebackers on skates. Yes every team needs guys like this, but not a whole team of them. Combine that with football shoulder pads designed to deliver shots rather than protect, and you get WWE on ice. 2-1 and 1-0 games with 15 shots on goal per team? Is this what we want? Someone called it Sumo hockey … great description.

    Open up the rinks. the athletes have changed. Bigger, faster . Let the skill players show their skills

  18. desertfan - Jun 3, 2013 at 9:10 PM

    Also new rumour has it that the European Leagues are discussing making their rinks a little smaller.

    Maybe a compromise in the middle???

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