NHL: GM Meetings discuss overtime, fighting and playoff format

Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland, GM Meetings.

Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

National Hockey League general managers met in Toronto yesterday to discuss a variety of topics concerning the current state of the game. Among matters discussed were 1) overtime length 2) fighting in hockey, specifically pertaining to goaltenders, and 3) clarification on the new NHL Realignment playoff structure.

Overtime length was a hot topic because NHL general managers are looking for solutions that will allow less games to be solved via shootout. Since 2005-06 regulation games have been determined by the shootout if opposing teams remain tied after 60 minutes of regular play, and 5 minutes of 4 on 4 overtime. The biggest problem with the shootout is that it doesn’t emulate a real game scenario, thus making it a controversial way to award 2 points to one team, and only 1 point to an opponent that survived 65 minutes of actual hockey.

The likely solution: longer overtime, helping to prevent the necessity for a game deciding shootout. Kenny Holland, the GM of the Detroit Red Wings, on the appetite for change regarding the shootout:

And more from general managers Doug Armstrong and Lou Lamoriello, courtesy of CBC‘s Elliott Friedman:

In March the GMs will more elaborately discuss the possibility of extending overtime length. The biggest concerns at the moment centre around the agreed upon length of a new OT format, as well as, the amount of players to compete heads up.

At the moment NHL overtimes are 5 minutes long, 4 against 4 the whole way through. If overtime length is extended teams may compete the second leg of the OT period at 3 players against 3. Something tells me if 3 on 3 is to transpire for 3-5 minutes after the existing 4 on 4 period ends, there won’t be too many shootouts in the future.

Fighting in hockey has dominated talk radio and newspaper articles for the better part of the 2013-14 NHL season. On opening night Montreal Canadiens enforcer George Parros suffered an unfortunate accident in a fight against Colton Orr of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Parros fell flat on his face, bloodying his chin, causing him to lay unconscious for a short period of time. While the Habs enforcer lay motionless, fans grew silent and scared. It was a terrible moment for Parros, the Canadiens, and the entire game of hockey.

In a heavily scrutinized sequence earlier this season (that didn’t result in physical injury), Flyers goaltender Ray Emery went out of his way to beat up on Braydon Holtby of the Washington Capitals. Holtby was forced into a fight he did not wish to participate in, while NHL referees did little to intervene and protect the Caps goaltender. The play embarrassed the league, as social media ripped apart fighting in the NHL and Ray Emery for being able to basically assault another player and get away with it.

In light of Emery’s actions the GMs discussed the possibility of preventing goaltenders from leaving their crease and crossing centre ice to engage in physical combat. One goaltender believes this change should be made:

It looks like fighting penalties will remain as is for now.

Also on the docket at the annual fall meetings was a clarification on playoff format. There was some confusion regarding the wild card crossover. As it stands now, there are two divisions per conference. The top three teams from each division are guaranteed a playoff spot and slotted from 1-3 based on total points. The next two best records in the conference also qualify for the playoffs, but they do so as wild card teams. Top record in the conference plays the wild card team with less points in the standings. The confusion regarded the possibility of both divisions sending one wild card team to the post-season, and whether or not the crossover still applies in that situation. It does. For more information on the new playoff format read this article by The Hockey News

Finally, the general managers were updated regarding hybrid icing. So far, same amount of icings but no injuries.