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Thanks to Red & Black Hockey and Puck Daddy over at Yahoo, we have word that the American Hockey League, at the behest of the NHL, is going to experiment with cutting minor penalties in half during regular season overtime sessions. Earlier this year Brian Burke floated the idea in the press, and now it appears that will actually see the light of day. Clearly, the free agency market is so unappealing this summer that GM's have too much time on their hands, and are dreaming up unnecessary rules changes to keep themselves occupied.

Quoth the The Star:
"This season, 39 per cent of the penalties in OT that have resulted in a 4-on-3 power play have produced the winning goal in NHL games. It stands to reason, [Colin] Campbell said, that one-minute penalties will produce fewer goals, and therefore more games will go to shootouts."

Frankly, I'm dumbfounded here. What exactly is the problem that the league is trying to solve? The whole point of going to 4-on-4 during the overtime was to encourage goal scoring. Are too many games getting decided in overtime play rather than going to the shootout? In 2007-8, 272 games went to overtime, and of those, 156 went to the shootout. 57% seems fine by me, I certainly have yet to hear anyone complain from an overall standpoint that too many games are decided during sudden death.

No, what this smacks of is whining by teams that take penalties and lose in OT as a result. Gee, I wonder where Brian Burke's team ranks in terms of how often they are shorthanded? 1st in the league, you say, by a long way? Well, color me shocked.

For those teams, I have a bold, innovative solution to finding yourself in a 4-on-3 with a game on the line. Don't take the penalty in the first place. No, that's alright, you don't have to thank me; just keep me on your Christmas card list, OK?

The shootout is already having a large enough effect on the standings; the only reason Edmonton was within sniffing distance of the Western Conference playoffs was their freakish 15-4 record during "circus time". There's no need to further sully the significance of NHL regular season standings, which, thanks to the single point awarded for an OT/SO Loss, already compensate losers more than enough.

And why, if you're going to venture down this awful road, is the penalty cut in half? Regular season overtime is 5 minutes long, so if you're comparing it to regular action (with periods of 20 minutes), wouldn't 30 seconds be more appropriate? Or if you compare it to the entire 60 minutes of regulation play, then OT penalties should only last 10 seconds. There, that makes much more sense, doesn't it?

The bottom line here is that the league is actually entertaining the notion of making it a better play for someone to haul down an opponent who is a threat to score a winning goal. That is simply mind-boggling to me.