What the NHL can learn from the Olympics

Clive Mason

The NHL and NHLPA may or may not have their players in the 2018 Winter Olympics, but that doesn't mean they couldn't learn a thing or two from the IOC and IIHF. Lets take a look at a few things the NHL could learn from the Sochi games, and a few they could easily forget.

What the NHL should adopt:

1. Three-Point Games

This idea has been around for almost as long as the shootout, but its time has come. The three-point rule would be easy to implement and understand. In most proposed schemes, teams would receive three points for a regulation win, two points for a overtime or shootout win, one point for a OT/SO loss and, as it is today, no points for a regulation loss.

Looking at this year's current standings, not much would change (Doc. credit to threeriversburghblog.com). The Tampa Bay Lightning and the Montreal Canadiens would swap places and the Detroit Red Wings would get bumped out of a playoff spot by the Columbus Blue Jackets. In the West, the only change would be a swap of positions for the Colorado Avalanche and the Chicago Blackhawks. Opponents of this scheme may ask "If it makes such small changes in the standings, why change at all?" Knowing that a tie at the end of regulation causes winning teams to lose a point in the standings, teams likely would play a more exciting and desperate style of hockey rather than coasting to a regulation tie.

2. Removal of the Trapezoid

Although we never saw Mike Smith play for Team Canada in the Olympics, we know that he would have taken full advantage of this IIHF rule. Mike did play at the 2013 IIHF World Championship without the trapezoid, but with limited sample size it's hard to tell definitively if that rule change helped his game. Seemingly the trapezoid's only benefit is to prevent good puck handling goaltenders like Martin Brodeur, Henrik Lundqvist, and Smith from doing their job. Oh, and Smitty would have totally had this one...

3. Review of every goal

This isn't necessarily a IIHF or IOC rule, but the controversial non-goal in the Russia-USA qualifying match got me thinking, what would it take for the NHL to review every goal? On a busy 14-game night in the NHL, 28 teams would play across four time zones. In those games, an average of 5.35 goals per game would likely be scored, If you span the 6.5 hours of game time from coast to coast, that averages out to one goal every five minutes. The video reviews could eliminate controversial goals like "The Netting goal", "Off-side goals", and "The Butt Goal". Limiting the types of goals that can or cannot be reviewed is laughable, especially with the resources at the disposal of the video review room. Furthermore if baseball, the sport that is "steeped in tradition", can use video review of every home run, the ever-evolving NHL can certainly do the same.

What the NHL should continue to ignore:

1. Wacky Shootout Rules

Yeah the T.J. Oshie shootout was exciting, and it spawned a pretty great mash up, but if you're going to have a gimmick to decide your games, sending the same player again and again just seems wrong. With the current system, every player has to shoot until a winner is determined. In the Olympic system, fans would never get to see things like a defenseman scoring a goal, between his legs, in the 15th round of the shootout.

2. No Touch Icing

The "tens" of seconds saved by implementing this rule makes no sense. I understand preventing collisions, and that's why I like the Hybrid icing rule; it halts those potentially dangerous full speed collisions and keeps the defensemen from just coasting towards the puck.

3. Single Loss Elimination

It's the nature of the Olympic games, medals are won and lost by inches or by tenths of seconds, it's the way it has always been. Ultimately we all realize that you can't play a full Stanley Cup Final program in two weeks, and call me a "Bitter American" all you want, but the single loss and you're out system just sucks.

Have any other ideas? Let us know in the comment section below.

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