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NHL GMs ponder the return of the red line


Guest Irishjim
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As an unrepentant hockey nerd, few things bring me more joy than a gorgeous, tape-to-tape outlet pass.

For that reason, the scuttlebutt around the return of the red line – and the two-line pass rule that would come with it – scares me. That being said, there are more than a few general managers who believe that re-instituting the red line would help “control” a game that’s gotten faster and increasingly dangerous but not necessarily more skilled.

Yahoo’s Nicholas Cotsonika

provides an in-depth report on the debated issue, including Ken Hitchcock’s interesting argument for its return.

“If you want more puck possession in the game, you’ve got to bring the red line back in the game so there’s more control,” Hitchcock said. “It slows down a little bit. Second thing, the big hits on the defensemen, it comes from the middle of the ice. It doesn’t come from the walls. It comes from the middle of the ice.”

Chicago Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman understands the sentiment behind bringing back the red line, but advances a compelling counterargument: are we so certain that the removal of the red line is really the main culprit for an increase in injuries?

“In theory, I understand it,” Bowman said. “I don’t know in actuality. Is that why there’s been injuries? Because of the red line? Or is it more that there’s no obstruction? … I don’t know if there’s a correlation between the red line and injuries. … If you really broke it down, I’m not so sure that allowing the stretch pass is going to result in more concussions.”

While one defense-leaning coach made an argument for the red line, Nashville Predators bench boss Barry Trotz articulates my worst fears about bringing back back the red line.

“I think actually it would hurt the game, putting the red line back in, to be honest, because of the fact that you could just back up and keep everybody in front of you,” Trotz said. “Now they can spread you out, and it allows the skill players a little bit more room.”

If the league really wants to limit injuries related in large part to unnecessary collisions, here’s my two-pronged suggestion that could take care of some of the concerns without allowing devious defensive coaches to get their trap-friendly red line back:

1. Remove the trapezoid: Why get rid of the red line when you can remove two other red lines that arbitrarily limit a marketable skill for puck-moving goalies? By allowing the Martin Brodeurs of the world more freedom to play the puck, defensemen wouldn’t have to subject themselves to as many collisions and yawn-inducing dump-and-chase strategies would be a little less effective.

2. Hybrid/no-touch icing: It’s funny that the NHL’s executives are pondering a rather drastic change yet they continuously ignore an alteration to a rule that places players in danger for marginal returns. How many ugly touch-up injuries need to happen before the league wises up? Is the chase for those pucks thrilling enough – and the success rate in attempting to retrieve those loose pucks high enough – for them to be worth the risks?

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So how do you feel about these ideas? What rule changes and/or tweaksshould be considered – if any? Debate away in the comments.

Edited by Irishjim
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@Irishjim - I wouldn't make assumptions about the red-line and it's relationship to the trap. As evidence that there is not necessarily a correlation, I cite European (particularly Czech) hockey. No red-line and a larger rink and yet it's like watching soccer on ice much of the time.

However, that doesn't mean I want it back. I'm juts, you know, sayin'

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Initially, I wasn't crazy about the elimination of the two line pass violation.

Maybe it had something to do with watching hockey for 35 or so years.

Either I'm used to it or just plain like how it opened up the game more.

Now, I'm not so sure I want to see the red line brought back to the NHL.

I don't know if correlating injuries to the elimination of the red line is accurate or not.

Sure, injuries increased, especially concussions.

One thing that changed is the awareness of concussions today.

We really don't know how many players went out on the ice in the past that wouldn't be allowed in the lineup today.

With that in mind, I'm not convinced the injury statistics would have changed very much over the last 20 years or more.

How many injuries still occur on icing touch ups?

Most icings are fairly straight forward, meaning there's a lone defenseman casually skating back for the touch up.

I still like a tight game when there's a race for the puck.

I say keep the current icing rules.

Sure, get rid of the trapezoid and let the goalie be a part time 3rd defensemen.

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while they are at it they can get back to calling obstruction. 350 + less hooking, holding related calls this season... Teams like Vancouver who were built to succeed the way the rules were meant to be called are now struggling as "clutch and grab" seems to be making a return, I dont think its any coincidence that the Sedins are currently in the longest pointless droughts of their careers.

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while they are at it they can get back to calling obstruction. 350 + less hooking, holding related calls this season... Teams like Vancouver who were built to succeed the way the rules were meant to be called are now struggling as "clutch and grab" seems to be making a return, I dont think its any coincidence that the Sedins are currently in the longest pointless droughts of their careers.

Amen! Post lockout hockey 05-06 and 06-07 was the best! Speed and skill. Also perhaps limit the size of goalie equipment. Scoring sells, see NFL new rules to help offense as a prime example.

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while they are at it they can get back to calling obstruction. 350 + less hooking, holding related calls this season... Teams like Vancouver who were built to succeed the way the rules were meant to be called are now struggling as "clutch and grab" seems to be making a return, Plus, we're nearing playoff hockey where it gets a lot tougher, so I dont think its any coincidence that the Sedins are currently in the longest pointless droughts of their careers.

Fixed it for ya.

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Giroux, for example. is still getting points. (17 in last 12 games) Yes the game has clamped down. But the Sedins disappear when the going gets tough. It's why the "Nucks will have a hard time winning the cup. They have everything else.

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