LinkSpeak: How To Fix Hockey

Last week we established how the be better a hockey fan through focused insanity. Today we turn our attention to the game itself in hopes of discovering how to fix something that is so fundamentally broken. Today, we fix hockey!

As any fan, pundit, or player could tell you, ice hockey is a fundamentally broken sport. As complexity has been added to the system over the years the outputs of the sport (e.g. goals, lockouts, and animated .gifs) have become uncoupled from the traditional inputs (e.g. passion, TV contract revenue, lockouts, and French Canadians). By this time, everyone is aware that goal scoring has been on an overall decline since the 2005 lockout that dramatically increased goal scoring through the radical concept of confusing the hell out of the referees thereby increasing the number of power plays per game.

A decade later pundits are now asking the tough question of "why hockey has changed so much and grown so distant that we don’t even know what hockey is anymore?" Like any rocky relationship, the solution to the problems are through open dialogue about how to keep things fresh. The divide is between groups that either want the league to do absolutely nothing or revert hockey back to a previously idealized golden age where both teams are dressed in white, the sport is played by 100% white men, and no one wears safety equipment.

And even among those seeking change, that faction is splintered. Let's start by summarizing the two major camps in the goal scoring debate. The first camp says that goals need to be bigger because goaltenders are bigger because their equipment is bigger to protect them from shots that are bigger and heavier. I’m not sure what a "big" or "heavy" shot is, but it’s probably just a gritty way to refer to things like speed, rotation, and velocity.

The second camp feels that goalie equipment should be reduced in length and bulk to more accurately reflect the size and shape of NHL goalies. I think we can safely call this the "shave the cat" approach to increasing goal scoring. For example, Pekka Rinne appears as a glorious Finnish Maine Coon with a coat of golden fur, but if you strip away all the gear you find yourself uncomfortable at the leanness of three time Vezina finalist.

These ideas are generally boring and represent the old fashioned thinking that enables American soccer fans to refer to the NHL being one of the major four North American sports as "quaint." In fact it was pointed out that analysis suggests net size and goalies may not even be the issue. Today let’s throw out some ideas on how to fix the NHL goal scoring problem. I encourage everyone in the comments to share their own fixes as well. The only way we’ll solve a problem like global wa goal scoring is by working together for a better tomorrow.

  1. Reduce the size of the pucks / increase the number of pucks: You might have seen me suggest this on Twitter recently. No one can see the puck anyways, so why not make it more difficult to track and block? Much like the dark matter that forever threatens to destabilize our very existence, more pucks would find the back of the best if they were the size of a half-dollar coin. Bonus: you only need to replace the netting instead of the entire frame, no new holes need to be drilled for the posts either.

  2. Remove Defenseman: Elliotte Friedman in his 30 Thoughts points to an analysis that goalies save over 96% of shots from defenseman, and the proportion of shots from defenseman has increased over the years. With teams no longer icing defenseman, more shots will come from the five-forwards-a-side system.

  3. Ban St. Louis Blues and Chicago fans from attending live NHL events: doesn’t impact scoring, but does generally improve fan quality of life.

  4. Reduce the size of hockey in general: People love bubble hockey! Kids love bubble hockey! Adults love bubble hockey! Bubble hockey doesn’t care about playing the Olympics! Let’s just make the switch over.

  5. Replace goalies with robotic goalies that respond to NHL 16 controller commands. Stack those pads and paint me like un gardien de but!

  6. Let David Poile draft all of the goalies for the NHL. Teams will then select from the goalie pool based on the number of overtime losses from the prior season.

  7. We don’t even need to play the games now that we have advanced stats! Let’s just apply modifiers to variables in key calculations to increase scoring in a mathematically sound way.

  8. Break hockey, set it cleanly, and then insert titanium pins so that it remains properly aligned during the healing process. I may be thinking about femurs….

And there we have a few simple steps to address some of the major issues in the NHL. With those steps, we will not require extensive work to prepare arenas for new nets and without disturbing the unstable and worrisome goalie union. What remains? What did I miss? Share your thoughts in the comments.