DETROIT — Wings general manager Ken Holland likes where today’s NHL is at and doesn’t want to see things change.
“I like the game,” Holland said as he arrived at in Boca Raton, Fla., for three days of meetings with the league’s other general managers. “I like what we’ve got going. I’m interested in discussing how we can make the game better, but I don’t think anything needs to be done, other than maybe a few tweaks.”
According to Holland, there are a number of potential rules changes on the agenda including removing the trapezoid behind the nets, putting back the center-ice red line and implementation of a hybrid icing.
One thing that isn’t on the agenda is 3-on-3 overtime.
Holland proposed at last year’s meetings, if the game is still tied after playing 4-on-4 for five minutes, that teams play another five minutes of 3-on-3.
He did not submit that this year.
“There was a little support for it last year,” Holland said. “I haven’t really done any work on it, so I have not put it on the agenda.”
There has also been talk of a proposed 3-2-1 points system. A regulation win would be worth three points, an overtime or shootout win would be two points and an overtime or shootout loss would be one point.
“I don’t like it,” Holland said. “How can you have better races than we have today? You can only make it worse. All 3-2-1 is going to do is create more separation. Why do we want more separation?
“Right now you’ve got teams clustered at the top fighting for first overall,” Holland added. “You’ve got teams in the middle fighting for fourth place and you’ve got tight divisional races. How can you have a better race than that? I think the races are incredible.”
Wings coach Mike Babcock is in favor of getting the center-ice red line back because teams are stacking up the blue line.
“He makes a great point,” Holland said. “My point is I think the game has never been better. The parity has never been better. There are lead changes, there are scoring chances and there are races for the playoffs. The Stanley Cup playoffs last year had seven series out of 15 go to seven games. If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.
“The other side is, I understand the people that want the red line back in think there’s this play now where you whip it and tip it and you go, and it’s going to take that play out of the game,” Holland continued. “I guess my perspective is I like the red line out. There is no perfect game. I think we’ve got a really good game. Whatever changes we make, coaches are going to adjust.”
The league took the center-ice red line out for the 2005-06 season, following the lockout in an attempt to increase scoring and speed up the game.
“Whatever rules are put in, these are the 30 best coaches in the world, they’re going to figure out a system to make sure the rules are played to their advantage,” Holland said. “I think we’ve got a great game, with great races. Games are exciting, there’s physicality, there’s everything you want in the game of hockey. Why change?”
The GMs are also expected to talk about adding a coaches’ challenge for goaltender interference calls, which is something the Wings might be in favor of with the number of disallowed goals Tomas Holmstrom has had taken off the scoreboard.
Taking out the trapezoids and going to a hybrid icing would increase safety for defense.
On the no-touch icing proposal, the defensive player need not touch the puck to trigger icing, just win the race to the faceoff dot.
Twenty GM’s need to support a rules change before it can be presented to the league’s competition committee. If it passes through there it goes to the league’s annual board of governors meeting in June.
“The shots used to be 23-20, there are shots, there’s scoring chances, plays around the net, the goalies are good, we tried to create safer environment with the rules,” Holland said. “I think the game’s in a good place.”