Boyle in front of Caps net

A three-in-the-key rule for hockey?


A couple of weeks ago we asked our fantastic readers, and even just the average ones, if the NHL needed to do more to generate scoring opportunities to combat the trend towards defensive, shot-blocking hockey that we’ve seen on full display during the playoffs.

About 46% of you said yes, the other 54% were wrong said no.

For those in the “yes” camp, one “radical measure” we floated was to create a rule that would prevent all five defenders from collapsing around the goalie and blocking shots all day.

How that would work exactly we weren’t sure, but The Globe and Mail’s Eric Duhatschek has an idea. Well, actually it’s former NHL coach and GM Pierre Pagé’s idea — why doesn’t the NHL borrow the three-in-the-key rule from basketball?

The rule states that an offensive player shall not remain in the key for more than three seconds. Pagé’s application to hockey would affect both offensive and defensive players, with the primary goal to keep the area in front of the net unclogged.

It’s an idea worth considering, given how established the shot-blocking trend is today. Teams all collapse back toward the goal, with every player instructed to get in front of shots, even if they happen to screen the goaltenders. Under the Pagé plan, hockey could create a zone in front of the goaltender that perhaps only three, or even two, players a team could enter at the same time.

Duhatschek understands it would be a drastic measure that would dramatically alter the look and strategy of the game. I mean, imagine a big forward not being allowed to park himself in front of the net the entire power play. What would Tomas Holmstrom do? Retire probably.

Personally I don’t see a rule like this being introduced in the near future, if ever. However, like Duhatschek writes, I do sometimes feel like “every goal seems to come off a cycle down low and requires that the puck carom to a player in a shooting position, usually off a deflected pass.”

Here are the 10 oldest players to play a game this season

Jaromir Jagr
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This isn’t breaking news or anything. We just thought you’d like to know that three of the NHL’s 10 oldest players (who’ve played at least one game this season) are members of the Florida Panthers.

Oh, and the Panthers’ starting goalie? He’s the oldest starter in the league. (Scroll down.)

Here’s the list of skaters, topped by 43-year-old Jaromir Jagr:


Yet another veteran Panther, 36-year-old defenseman Brian Campbell, ranks 17th on the list.

Granted, the above list does not include 39-year-old Patrik Elias (who’s hurt) or 39-year-old Eric Boulton (who just re-signed with the Isles). As soon as those two play, Thornton will get pushed out of the top 10.

Now here’s the list of goalies who’ve started at least one game this season, topped by 36-year-old Roberto Luongo:


For the record, Luongo isn’t the oldest goalie under contract. That would be Minnesota’s Niklas Backstrom, who’s 37.

Related: Can Florida’s old guys hang on while the young guys get better?

Hamburglar (groin) returns, Sens demote O’Connor

Andrew Hammond
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Matt O'Connor‘s time in the Canadian capital was brief, but still noteworthy.

O’Connor, the losing netminder in Sunday’s “Battle of the Backups” against Montreal — Habs No. 2 Mike Condon got the win — has been sent down to AHL Binghamton to pave the way for Andrew Hammond‘s return from a groin injury, per the Sun.

The Hamburglar has been out since the preseason, but his return is earlier than expected.

He was originally supposed to miss the first two weeks, yet now sounds as though he’ll play one of Ottawa’s two games on an upcoming road trip through Columbus and Pittsburgh.

It’s going to be interesting to see if Hammond can replicate the success he had last season, when he came out of nowhere to go 20-1-2 with a 1.79 GAA and .941 save percentage, and finish seventh in Vezina voting.