NHL Network had a half hour recap special tonight of today's camp (and will have another recap tomorrow for the second day). They interviewed a number of folks including Shanahan, Hitchcock and Bettman. I was quite surprised at what changes garnered the most positive reactions.
Just a reminder, these are the main changes the camp was testing out:
*Hybrid icing rule
*No line change for team committing an offside
*Crease reset rule
*Face-off variation (face-off controlled by whistle in place of traditional puck drop)
*Overtime: three minutes of 4-of-4, three minutes of 3-on-3, three minutes of 2-on-2, followed by shootout (5 players per team).
*Verification goal line (additional line situated behind the goal line)
*Wider blue lines
*Line changes zone in front of each bench
*Face-off variations (infringement results in the offending player moving back further, three face-off dots down the middle of the ice)
*No icing the puck while shorthanded
*OT - three minutes of 4-on-4, three minutes of 3-on-3, three minutes of 2-on-2 with long line changes; followed by three shooters per team in the shootout (if tied after three shots, then players who have shot previously can shoot again)
- The hybrid icing received a majority thumbs up. I tend to agree with this one. They said offense opportunities didn't change, but injury risks were reduced.
- The no line change after icing was split. Some didn't feel it affected the game where others felt it increased offense.
- Crease reset: no change. Players tended to stay out of the crease and avoid contact with the goaltender anyway. I wonder how pros would be different from the younger guys though.
- The general consensus on having static face offs with the puck on the ice and the linesman initiating it via a whistle was positive. No one interviewed, frankly, didn't like it. I was pretty shocked about this actually. What they seemed to like the most was the fact that there were clean wins and losses. The one thing that was missed, though, were the scrums. Some changes to it were encouraged to bring that aspect back. Another change that received some positive feedback was punishing a center for infringements by making him take a step back from the dot rather than kicking him out. It reduced his advantage and generally he lost the face off every time. This would hurt his stats, so they believed it would make him more honest.
- The overtime changes were also a surprise to me. Everyone seemed to love it. They all felt the 4x4 and 3x3 created so much offense and odd-man opportunity that the games would rarely make it to the shoot out. The folks interviewed almost seemed giddy about it. There was also approval for the long changes for OT since, again, it created more offensive opportunities.
- I hadn't heard about the shallow net change, but I love it. They reduced the depth of the net from 44" to 40" and it created way more room behind the net for creativity with plays. One comment made was that the change would give more chances for Forsberg to Hejduk saucer passes. Sweet analogy!
Another thing they looked at was changing the color of the meshing on the net to red. The players hated it because it made the net look smaller. They also tried adding a "line change" area around the bench that is similar to the crease. Not a lot of comment on it but it seemed to increase 'too many men' penalties since a player had to be in it for another to come off the ice. Hard to time, apparently. There were positive reactions to the wider blue lines - they were about a foot bigger. It created more offense, they said, because of a propensity for offside infractions. They also tried three face off circles down the middle. It was "interesting." Again, more offense, but a negative that was mentioned was that the defense was already set in place right from the face off. Visually, it looked like crop circles.
Bettman said he doesn't believe anything will be changed for this season. He also commented that this kind of camp might be done every year or every other year (which seemed more likely.) Certainly, he said, they needed to have some conversations over the next week about the camp and the observations made.
Well, I think that was it. I am looking forward to tomorrow's recap. 10:00 ET Canada, 10:30 ET USA on NHL Network.