TORONTO — NHL general managers are expected to review rule changes and discuss the controversial coach and executive compensation policy at their annual November meeting on Tuesday.
For the first time, the league has three-on-three play in overtime and coach’s challenges for goaltender interference and offside plays. Deputy commissioner Bill Daly doesn’t expect any potential changes to those rules to take place right away.
“These rules are the way they’re going to be at least for the balance of the season,” Daly said Monday. “I don’t think there’s been any unintended consequences for the rules. And I think they’ve operated as we’ve expected they’d operate.”
A year ago at this meeting, GMs got rid of the dry scrape of the ice surface before overtime, which was designed to create more offence in overtime and cut down on shootouts. As Ken Holland of the Detroit Red Wings put it, the dry scrape turned out to be a “buzz kill” that stopped the momentum of games, so it was removed almost immediately.
One area of debate is whether referees and linesmen should decide coach’s challenges in consultation with the situation room in Toronto or whether the league should have that power as it does on the puck crossing the goal line. Currently, officials watch replays on a tablet device at the penalty box.
In the first 214 games of the season, coaches challenged 32 plays. Seven of 23 goaltender interference challenges overturned the call on the ice, while four of nine offside challenges overturned the call on the ice.
Coaches have given mixed reviews to the new system, with Mike Babcock of the Maple Leafs pointing out that more goals are being taken off the board as the NHL tries to create more offence.
Three-on-three overtime isn’t going anywhere as it has been incredibly successful in cutting down on the number of shootouts. Of 42 games that went to overtime through Sunday, 29 were decided before the shootout, good for 69 per cent.
Last season, only 44.4 per cent of games that went to four-on-four overtime ended before a shootout.
“When you looked at what we were trying to accomplish with the rule change, it’s working extraordinarily well,” Bettman said during his keynote address at the Prime Time Sports Management Conference.
“Bother me would be too strong a word,” Bettman said. “If I owned a bakery, I’m not sure I would advertise the fact that I think my cupcakes don’t taste good. The fact is overwhelmingly it’s had a positive reaction, and people are always entitled to their opinions.”
Bettman has his own opinion about the NHL’s executive compensation policy that has come under fire in recent months. Teams must give up draft picks when hiring rivals’ executives are coaches, even those fired from their positions.
For example, the Columbus Blue Jackets will have to give one of their next three second-round picks to the Vancouver Canucks for hiring John Tortorella during the season, even though he was fired after 2013-14. That has led to plenty of debate, and Daly said the policy could change after this GMs meeting and next month’s board of governors meeting.
“There was certainly some hesitation to instituting the policy in the first place,” Daly said. “It’s something the commissioner was not very supportive of from the start and a little bit skeptical about how it would operate and I think some of the effects of that policy haven’t been entirely consistent with certainly the intent of the policy. It’s something that certainly warrants attention.”
Daly said the earliest that compensation rule would change is Jan. 1, a full year after it was instituted.