Tag: red line

George McPhee

Caps GM McPhee thinks there’s not much the NHL needs to change


Although the GMs discussed a number of changes during their recent meetings, such as removing the trapezoid and the potential return of the red line, ultimately there weren’t many alterations to the game agreed upon. Capitals GM George McPhee thinks that’s because, for the most part, the general managers are happy with where the game is today.

“Sometimes you get into this mindset that there are all these things to talk about,” McPhee said. “I’ve been going to these meetings for 15 years and at some point you have to go into these meetings and say, ‘You know what? The game’s in great shape. We don’t have to do much,’ and that’s what we experienced this year.”

McPhee was in on the smaller group meeting to discuss the red line, but he feels the NHL needs two-line passes.

“It adds more creativity and speed to the game,” he said.

McPhee also thinks that strict enforcement of the rules the NHL has adopted in recent years regarding blows to the head should lead to fewer concussions. It’s worth noting that the 30 fines and 38 suspensions that Brendan Shanahan has given this season is a roughly 50% increase compared to what Colin Campbell did back in 2005-06.

GM Meetings: Red line rule doesn’t gain much traction

Ken Hitchcock

For all the talk about safety in the GM meetings, the worry was that there would be some over-correction that could accelerate the NHL’s return to the Dead Puck Era. Of course, the most obvious example is the discussion to bring the red line back – and therefore eliminate the two-line pass along with (perhaps) some of the grinding hits that come with dump-and-chase strategies that (supposedly) arise from the red line’s removal.

Neutral zone trap Chicken Littles can breathe easily, though, as Yahoo’s Nick Cotsonika is among the reporters who passed along news that the move to remove the red line didn’t gain much traction.

I’ll just insert this excerpt from Cotsonika, which is basically acting as a text-based stress reliever:

Some GMs came to the meeting in favor of the idea, thinking the game had become too fast and too simple, with teams firing the puck through the neutral zone and simply tipping it into the offensive end. Their thinking is that re-instituting the red line would slow down the game or add skill through the neutral zone.

(Quick aside: I’m not saying that there’s NO skill involved with navigated the neutral zone, but I still laughed out loud at the notion that re-instituting the red line who be a good thing for skill players.)

But there wasn’t much support among the small group that discussed it, according to the Detroit Red Wings’ Ken Holland. The worry is that teams will start trapping in the neutral zone the way they used to or just find another way to adjust.

“I think pretty well everybody in our group agrees that they like it the way it us,” Holland said. “We can change the rules, but we’re going to have another set of circumstances five years from now and four years from now. That’s the problem.”

Don’t mind me, I’m just going to dance on the grave of that horrible, horrible idea.

More GM Meetings goodness:

Burke gets dirt in his face part one: No “bear hug” rule.

More Burke dirt: Puck-over-the-glass delay of game penalty seems here to stay.

Brendan Shanahan breaks the meetings down.

Hybrid icing gets a serious look.

Ken Hitchcock is all for returning the red line

Ken Hitchcock

Yesterday we heard from Red Wings coach Mike Babcock about how he would like to see the return of the red line and the two-line pass. Today, it’s Blues coach Ken Hitchcock’s turn to lend his voice to the cause.

Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal catches up with Hitchcock and finds out that his reasons for wanting to return the two-line pass run deeper than those of GMs hoping to slow down the game and limit concussions.

“With a red line it forces more of a puck-control game through the neutral zone, rather than a dumpand-chase game,” said Hitchcock. “There’s no puck-possession now, but a red line would bring back the playmaking centre. The centre who buys space and time would be back. Those nifty guys we saw before, they’re not around much anymore.”

Finding space and time on the ice where suffocating forechecking is a key defensive element these days on a crowded ice with bigger players is difficult as it is. Taking away that space by making sure no one can lurch out beyond the red line doesn’t seem to do much to help that cause.

As for the worry about the game turning like how it was before the lockout, Hitchcock says as long as they’re calling penalties for obstruction, all is well. Problem is those penalties aren’t being called as often now as they were after the lockout. It’s easy to read into the future and how this could end up causing history to repeat itself.

The idea of bringing the two-line pass back and putting the red line into play smells of taking the easy road towards trying to solve a problem in the league.

Ken Holland and Mike Babcock disagree on bringing back the red line

Mike Babcock

After the lockout, the red line was taken out of play to allow for more speed and and a more open game on the ice. Now with injuries becoming more commonplace thanks to the increased speed through the neutral zone, some want to see it back in effect.

One of those people that wants it returned is Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock. Unfortunately for him, Red Wings GM Ken Holland doesn’t agree with him as CBC’s Tim Wharnsby shares.

“I’m not sure where we are going if we put the red-line back in,” Holland said. “I think we have a great game. There are scoring chances. There are lead changes. There is parity. There are races for the divisions. There are races for the conferences. There are races for the playoffs. Last year, seven of the 15 series in the playoffs went to a game seven.”

Holland says the game has never been better and after sharing his idea to make overtime a 10-minute affair featuring five minutes each of four-on four and three-on-three to help further eliminate the possibility of shootouts, Holland is keeping busy with the big ideas. Judging by how much talk on bringing back the red line is picking up steam, it looks like Holland is going to be busy fighting a few uphill battles.

NHL GMs ponder the return of the red line

Ken Hitchcock

As an unrepentant hockey nerd, few things bring me more joy than a gorgeous, tape-to-tape outlet pass.

For that reason, the scuttlebutt around the return of the red line – and the two-line pass rule that would come with it – scares me. That being said, there are more than a few general managers who believe that re-instituting the red line would help “control” a game that’s gotten faster and increasingly dangerous but not necessarily more skilled.

Yahoo’s Nicholas Cotsonika provides an in-depth report on the debated issue, including Ken Hitchcock’s interesting argument for its return.

“If you want more puck possession in the game, you’ve got to bring the red line back in the game so there’s more control,” Hitchcock said. “It slows down a little bit. Second thing, the big hits on the defensemen, it comes from the middle of the ice. It doesn’t come from the walls. It comes from the middle of the ice.”

Chicago Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman understands the sentiment behind bringing back the red line, but advances a compelling counterargument: are we so certain that the removal of the red line is really the main culprit for an increase in injuries?

“In theory, I understand it,” Bowman said. “I don’t know in actuality. Is that why there’s been injuries? Because of the red line? Or is it more that there’s no obstruction? … I don’t know if there’s a correlation between the red line and injuries. … If you really broke it down, I’m not so sure that allowing the stretch pass is going to result in more concussions.”

source: Getty ImagesWhile one defense-leaning coach made an argument for the red line, Nashville Predators bench boss Barry Trotz articulates my worst fears about bringing back back the red line.

“I think actually it would hurt the game, putting the red line back in, to be honest, because of the fact that you could just back up and keep everybody in front of you,” Trotz said. “Now they can spread you out, and it allows the skill players a little bit more room.”

If the league really wants to limit injuries related in large part to unnecessary collisions, here’s my two-pronged suggestion that could take care of some of the concerns without allowing devious defensive coaches to get their trap-friendly red line back:

1. Remove the trapezoid: Why get rid of the red line when you can remove two other red lines that arbitrarily limit a marketable skill for puck-moving goalies? By allowing the Martin Brodeurs of the world more freedom to play the puck, defensemen wouldn’t have to subject themselves to as many collisions and yawn-inducing dump-and-chase strategies would be a little less effective.

2. Hybrid/no-touch icing: It’s funny that the NHL’s executives are pondering a rather drastic change yet they continuously ignore an alteration to a rule that places players in danger for marginal returns. How many ugly touch-up injuries need to happen before the league wises up? Is the chase for those pucks thrilling enough – and the success rate in attempting to retrieve those loose pucks high enough – for them to be worth the risks?


So how do you feel about these ideas? What rule changes and/or tweaksshould be considered – if any? Debate away in the comments.