As we’ve seen over the course of the NHL’s Centennial Celebration this past year, a lot can change in 100 years of hockey.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman joined Hockey Central Saturday to talk a little hockey history as well as how the game has — and will continue to — evolve as we embark on the next century.
“It’s really more about being willing to respect the game for what it has been and what it is,” Bettman said. “Obviously the game has changed. When you think back to Lester Patrick and the changes that he innovated almost 100 years ago, whether it was changing on the fly or offsides or numbers on uniforms. Those are the types of things that we need to continue to understand, not to change the game for the sake of changing the game, but we’re constantly monitoring everything that’s going on in the game, looking for trends.
“We went to sudden-death overtime, we went to a shootout, we’ve modified four-on-four to three-on-three,” Bettman continued. “We want to do the things that are true to the game but also evolve with the game, particularly as the players have gotten bigger and faster and even more skilled than they ever were.”
Of course, there are limits to that change. Take three-on-three overtime, for example. It has been one of the most thrilling parts of professional hockey since its introduction to the NHL at the start of the 2015-16 season, but will it ever hit the post-season?
“The answer to that is no,” Bettman said. “We don’t use the shootout in the playoffs, even though you can win an Olympic gold medal in the shootout. We, and again, I guess this is a question of degree, but we’re trying to maintain the core essence of our game and have it be relevant and entertaining. And so we like the game the way it is. Maybe you tweak things here or there.”
Listen to the full audio here: