It’s the day after Matt Cooke elbowed his way out of another game, and a week after the General Manager’s meetings began in Boca Raton, Florida. Apparently Matt doesn’t read, listen or pay attention, as the talk was about stiffer penalties, fines, and making the game safer. As we wait with baited breathe to see what kind of suspension is handed down (nothing less than 10 games will be acceptable in my book), I felt this would be a perfect time to give my five step plan on how to fix the game. In no particular order, here’s five things (among others I have) I’d like to see changed:
No Touch Icing: This has been an issue that’s been tossed around for a while and it’s probably the easiest and simplest rule to put into place. How many times have we seen two players skating hard into the corner or behind the net for a puck? One player to negate icing, one player to touch the puck to cause icing? Someone gets tripped by a stick hitting the skate , (accidental or no), boarded, or slips and falls and turns an ankle, a knee, or worse, gets his face smashed into the glass? Some say that it’s a rule that would change the game too much. Really? Wasn’t some of the best hockey we’ve seen in years in the Olympics last year? There was no touch icing as part of those games, and did it make a difference? Did you notice that the game was worse? I don’t think so. This one is an automatic. More after the jump.
Get Rid Of The Trapezoid: The Marty Brodeur rule as it were. Goalies now are only able to touch the puck behind the net in the triangular area. This rule was put into place because the Marty’s (Brodeur and Turco) were so good at handling the puck, they acted as an extra defenceman. These guys are in the twilight of their career, and not many goaltenders are that good at handling the puck anyway. This change will prevent injuries and players racing for the puck with their backs to an oncoming forechecker. Just think about the play last year when Alexander Ovechkin hit Brian Campbell from behind. Somewhat of a careless play, but an example of where had the goaltender been allowed to play the puck, that hit on Campbell most likely doesn’t happen.
Stiffer Boarding and Charging Penalties: All boarding and charging penalties get an automatic five minute major! No discussion, and no wavering. You wanted more scoring? Well this is a perfect way to get it by giving the team with the advantage a five minute power play. Score as many times as you can within five minutes. Two boarding or charging penalties during the season gets you a one game suspension. This ought to make everyone think twice!
Remove The Instigator Penalty: This is another one that seems pretty easy. This penalty was put into place for the wrong reasons. Players have been “hesitant” to react when a teammate is plowed into, or attacked by an opposing player, that reactions are mostly non-existent nowadays. Remember when David Booth was hit by Mike Richards? Not one Florida Panther player took action against Richards. This is one way to let the players police these situations themselves and settle the battles on their own.
Head Shots: All head shots are reviewed on their own merit, and without regard as to whether or not a player is a repeat offender or not. The repeat offender verbage is very loose. If there was any validity to it, idiots like Cooke would have harsher penalties against them. Whether you’re a first time offender, or in the case of Cooke, a multiple offender, your situation is reviewed as an individual situation. Teams should be fined $10,000 per game that the player is suspended for.
The game and the sport is a great one. The excitement and thrills that it provides are second to none. However the speed of the game, the size of the players, and the strength that they have needs to be channeled differently.
Matt Cooke is facing what should be his fifth suspension. He’s most noted for his hit on Boston’s Marc Savard, as he there again used an elbow to the head and knocked Savard out. The book should be tossed at Cooke. I’m hoping for at least a 10 game suspension if not more. What I’d really like to see is that Mario Lemieux suspends him for the entire rest of the season on top of what the NHL does. Playoffs included.
I saw someone say on Twitter yesterday that if and when Cooke plays again, he should play in a straight jacket so his arms and elbows are contained. That’s an interesting thought!.