I don’t expect to get much out of Gary Bettman press conferences. His address at the start of the Final is never quite like Roger Goodell’s at the Super Bowl, though he never says anything much ever either. Something about being a commissioner, you just have to be really good at saying nothing. Unless you’re Rob Manfred, and you end up saying the wrong thing a good portion of the time. But hey, better than Bud Selig… I think?
A good portion of Bettman’s presser was about replay, as apparently we’re supposed still be in a rage over Timo Meier’s hand-pass even though the Blues didn’t lose another game that series (like they were supposed to). Bettman hit all the right notes about “balance” and “pace and rhythm” of the game and such. But you know, the more I think about it, the more there is a limit to what you can review and how it might not be something that keeps expanding until infinity. Maybe.
One, I still pretty much think that the challenge system is ridiculous and far inferior to an additional official in a box with a bank of screens communicating with the refs on the ice via headset. However, the challenge system has kind of relegated the offsides review to the hail mary that it usually is. Coaches banking a delay of game penalty on it has kept them from just throwing any challenge out there and losing just a timeout. That really shouldn’t be discounted. As far as losing that timeout of goalie interference, well, one would actually have to define what goalie interference is and they haven’t gotten there yet.
Still, when it comes to goals, what are we really talking about here? Kicked in, goalie interference, crossed the line, high stick (which seemingly never gets called). Right now, that’s it. That doesn’t seem a huge scope of things that adding hand-passes and whether the puck went out of play before a goal would make this a mountain that a bunch of rich people will die on of possible reviews (Topical!). And the puck going out of play could probably mostly be solved with the nets above the glass being white instead of black, as the lighting in most arenas makes a ripple on a black net really hard to see but much easier on a white one.
That seems possible. Restrict it to hand-passes in the offensive zone and let’s go. All goals are reviewed anyway, we’ve already gotten accustomed to that. I still don’t know why all sports haven’t employed a 30-second limit on reviews (well, I know why the NFL did because they figured out they could cram in another ad or two). If I can tell on my couch after a look or two if something is clear or not, so can they.
As far as reviewing delay of game calls or shots to the head…again, a 30-second clock or simply a video ref radioing down without the need of the refs to go to a phone would solve a lot of this. Yes, NHL arenas can’t get loud but if European soccer refs can manage, so can NHL ones. But that would depend on how seriously the NHL wants to crack down on hits to the head.
I also still contend that moving one ref or both off the ice and to a perch above the glass would solve a lot, as they would spend no time protecting their face or trying to get out of the way of play and could actually watch the action full-time. But I’m not going to sit on a hot stove waiting for that one.
-Bettman also addressed the CBA, which is looming. I’ll give him that he doesn’t pin peace on the NHLPA exclusively, while still firing an opening salvo, saying that both sides have things they’d probably like to change but overall everyone is doing well.
For the most part, you’d have to say both sides are doing well. The owners have the 50-50 split they’ve craved. and players at the top of the chain are getting theirs. Young players, except for the truly elite, are still eating it, but that’s more a fight between players before it even gets to the owners.
So a couple simple things I would want the players to try and get without a lockout, as if there’s any hope of avoiding that. One is an NBA-style mid-level exception or two. It’s vets that are getting squeezed out by teams only concentrating on top end talent and then young, cheap talent. We see a raft of players on PTOs come training camp that really should have contracts. Something like $3-$4 million, or two $3M slots, for players that are over 27 or have seven years in the league or thereabouts.
Second, get rid of the cap recapture penalty. It was a stupid idea in the first place that I can’t believe the union went along with, and punished teams and players for what they did under a different system. It’ll open up flexibility for some teams, and end this ridiculous saga of players having to be on LTIR for four years or whatever that is just silly. Those are two things I would want, which wouldn’t break any owners.
Of course, the owners, if they were ever to agree to any of this, would want something in return. But fuck ’em. They’ve got enough.