Archive for August, 2011
Monday, August 22nd, 2011
The NHL held their 2nd annual Research and Development camp last week to test out possible new rules and modifications. The guinea pigs for the camp aren’t just regular youngsters used to improve the game; they’re the top prospects for the 2012 NHL draft.
The camp wasn’t just for GM’s, coach’s and scout’s to experiment with rules it was also the chance for them to get a first hand look at the players that will be front and center come next year’s draft in June. Sure it’s a little early to start talking about the draft, but that’s not what I’m talking about.
With everyone at the Mastercard Centre scouting and preparing for a draft that’s still 10 months away it caught my attention that the so called off-season is no more for NHL prospects. 10 of the 36 NHL hopefuls were skating in front of the NHL’s brass and top scouts just days after returning from Slovakia where they competed in the Ivan Hlinka Memorial under 18 world championships. Add in that many of them went through an evaluation camp in Calgary before the tournament and it shows that these 17-year-old teenagers haven’t had a chance to breath since the end of their season.
A great example of this grind is Owen Sound Attack forward Jarrod Maidens, who it seems hasn’t taken off his skate’s since last off-season. The Grimsby, Ontario native made the Attack after being selected by the club in the first round of the 2010 OHL priority draft and went on to have a crucial role in Owen Sound winning it’s first ever OHL title. Maidens, who put together a solid rookie season scored the biggest goal of his young hockey career for the small town Attack in overtime of game seven of the OHL championship. There was no time off to celebrate and rest after that as Owen Sound than went on to represents the OHL in the Memorial Cup in Mississauga. With injuries to some of the Attack’s veteran players and top scorers Maidens was forced into a bigger role and log more minutes up front. Add in the Under 18 evaluation camp, than the trip to Slovakia winning the Gold and now he has the pressure of performing in front of scouts and GM’s. What off-season did Jarrod Maidens have?
Sure he’s a rare example but with CHL training camps just a week away, one has to wonder when a kid like Maidens starts to burn out and maybe slip in the draft rankings?
I talked to former NHLer’s Mathieu Schneider and Brendan Shanahan about the 24/7 life of hockey for these kids and got a great response from two players that carved out pretty good career’s themselves. Both talked about how when they were at that age they were out playing lacrosse, baseball, soccer, etc during their summers and taking their minds’ off of the idea of prepping for their draft year. They also mentioned that come training camp you have an eagerness to get back on the ice and back to the grind of the regular season.
I understand that the game has changed since then and that if these kids aren’t training 12 months a year than they’re only hurting themselves. All I ask is that we start to let them have a summer again enjoy the fresh air around them because before they know it, it will be gone, along with their glory years of being a teenage boy.
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Friday, August 19th, 2011
There was no referee chair that looked like it belonged on the beach or any outrageous rule changes that were focused on for humor more than improvement. There were only smart, intelligent and creative ideas this year.
The NHL wrapped up their second straight Research and Development camp held at the Maple Leafs first class practice facility in Etobicoke, Ontario this week. Last year might have been a little to much on the experiment side when it comes to improving the game, but this time around Brendan Shanahan and 30 General Managers, along with many other of the great hockey minds in game got it right when it comes to exploring ideas to create a safer and more entertaining NHL.
To sum it up after the second and final day of the camp it was pretty much a lock that come October there would be at least one new rule or modification that was discovered at the camp instituted for the start of the season. To tell you the truth I bet you a large double double that there’s three new adjustments to the 2011-2012 opening night.
Here they are:
Shallow nets- For the second straight year some of the NHL’s top eligible prospects scrimmaged for two on ice sessions with shallow nets. A regular size NHL net is ’44 inches deep. These new nets are only ’40 inches shallow and allow defenceman more room to maneuver behind the net. Both Phoenix Coyotes coach Dave Tippett and Pittsburgh bench boss Dan Byslma were very pleased with the extra space behind the cage and got the same response from Shanahan and many other GM’s.
Curved glass- A new style of glass will most likely be installed in all 30 NHL rinks for this season. The glass is curved so the stanchions at the end the of player benches is much more forgiving than the old one’s that helped Montreal forward Max Pacioretty suffer a severe concussion and broken vertebra. The glass will also give a better sightline for fans sitting behind the benches.
Aided video review- High-definition video cameras mounted inside the nets, which feature thinner mesh and plastic on top of the net to make it easier and quicker for the video review. A “verification line” will be painted a little over three inches back of the goal line to help the off-ice officials determine if the puck fully crossed the line better.
These are the rules and modifications that will be instituted this season. That doesn’t mean they were the only ideas that were well received. Some GM’s and coach’s liked the thought of switching ends for overtime, meaning teams would have the long change. There was also the proposal of 3 on 3 instead of 4 on 4 in the extra frame, which had mixed reviews but will definitely be explored again at the GM meetings.
There were also new rules on the special teams that could increase scoring. The first one tried out was not allowing the shorthanded team to ice the puck, meaning that if they cleared the puck down the sheet they would be called for icing and unable to change. The second experiment was a two minute major penalty, meaning a player given a two minute penalty would have to spend the full time of the infraction in the sin bin, no matter how many goals are scored. Some liked this idea and some thought it was too much, but enough agreed that it would be discussed further.
A new face-off violation was also brought to the table, with a “penalty line” painted a foot back of the dot for the eager centermen that wants to cheat on the draw. Many of the prospects testing out the rules said they could notice a drastic difference in their leverage when penalized on the draw. If the skater violates the rule twice he’s assessed a two minute penalty.
The other rule that caught some eyes and maybe for the wrong reason was Maple Leafs’ GM Brian Burke’s “Bear Hug” proposal. Burke’s idea was that players would grab the opposing player and tie him up along the boards instead of drilling him dangerously into the boards. It’s an idea that has the player’s safety in mind, but maybe just a little to old school.
Listen to Mathieu Schneiders take on the camp and the “Bear Hug”- Download
Many of the proposals and ideas brought to the two day event in Toronto were well received and brought the same thought to coach’s and GM’s minds that the game isn’t in any trouble but always gives them the chance to improve it for the player’s sake and the fans.