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Truth & rumours

Roundtable discusses problems haunting NHL

From Wednesday's Globe and Mail

A decline in goal scoring is perhaps the leading on-ice problem bedevilling the NHL. To discuss that issue and others, Steve Kouleas convened a roundtable panel that will air tonight on The Score at 11 p.m. EDT.

One idea that seemed to resonate with the group — NHL director of hockey operations Colin Campbell, director of officiating Stephen Walkom, Detroit Red Wing general manager Ken Holland, his Toronto Maple Leafs counterpart John Ferguson, Dallas Stars goaltender Marty Turco and Ottawa Senators centre Jason Spezza — is employing a 3-on-3 overtime session if 4-on-4 hockey does not produce a winner.

"I sensed that John and Ken really liked that," Kouleas said. "And Collie [Campbell] was all ears when they were talking about it."

Among the potential changes discussed, the most contentious is a further reduction in the size of goaltending equipment.

New Jersey Devils goalie Martin Brodeur quit the NHL's competition committee this past summer over the issue.

"The goalies are just so paranoid about getting hurt," Kouleas said. "Basically, they've told [Campbell] they've gone as far as they can go. This is it.

"So, Collie's saying, okay, if we've gone as far as we can go, our only alternative is to look at bigger nets.

"That's the warning shot he's given the goalies."

Many are skeptical that equipment cannot be reduced further. Spezza said some goalies have mechanisms that push up their football-style shoulder pads, increasing the size of the space they're filling.

"I think the league wants more honour among the goalies," Kouleas said. "The league is saying, 'If you can't figure it out, we will, by adding two or three more inches on the sides of the net and one inch up.' " To give shooters more net to shoot at, Walkom favours restricting goaltenders to the crease, stopping them from moving out to cut off the angle.

And there's support for making the trap (backing up in a defensive posture in the neutral zone) illegal.

"Five guys on the ice skating backwards might be a penalty," Kouleas said. "And you must have a guy at all times pursuing the puck. Holland said he liked the premise."

As well, Holland suggested calling icing or even penalizing a short-handed team for shooting the puck down the ice. Turco tossed out the idea of shootouts deciding overtime playoff games. (Please, no.) Overall, the group felt the game is heading in the right direction, despite complaints about the number of penalties still being called. Kouleas said players as well as refs need to be held responsible.

"Some players are getting it," he said. "Some just don't get it. They'll never get it. They'll put their stick on a guy every time. And that's what slows it down."

The show will be repeated at 6:30 p.m. tomorrow and at midnight on Friday.

  • Bill Clement has been hired as a hockey analyst by Rogers Sportsnet. He will appear by satellite from his base in the Philadelphia area, but will also do some studio work. Clement, a former player, worked on NBC's hockey broadcasts for the past two years. A shakeup at NBC made him redundant, although he is expected to work on NBC's Olympic coverage in 2010.
  • Mike Milbury, a former NHL player, coach and general manager, will join the NHL on TSN as a studio analyst this season, the network has confirmed. Milbury's first appearance will be on Friday on the TSN Fantasy Draft Special.
  • The CBC will provide live coverage of the FIFA Women's World Cup semi-finals. Germany-Norway starts at 7:45 a.m. today; United States-Brazil begins at 7:45 a.m. tomorrow.
  • TBS, the main carrier of baseball's first round of playoff games, will use four play-by-play teams: Chip Caray and Tony Gwynn; Ted Robinson and Steve Stone; Dick Stockton and Bob Brenly; Don Orsillo and Joe Simpson. In Canada, Sportsnet will air the TBS telecasts.

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