Capitals general manager George McPhee met with members of the media on Friday at Kettler Capitals Iceplex to discuss, among other things, Wednesday’s NHL trade deadline, the development of the Caps’ top prospects and last month’s general managers’ meetings in Toronto.
In the fifth and final part of the interview, McPhee discusses the rules changes being debated among the NHL’s governing body:
On reducing the size of goalie equipment:
I'm in agreement with that. We've reduced it, but we didn't reduce it enough and there were player safety issues that seemed to get in the way of that. I really don't think that's an issue anymore for the goaltenders. In fact, I think it's become a player safety issue for players and defensemen because the goaltenders have so much equipment on and take away so much of the bottom part of the net, everybody shoots high now and you get guys getting hit in the face. So if there's a safety issue anymore, I think it's that one. I don't believe it's a safety issue with goaltenders anymore; they're well protected. We can reduce the size of some of the equipment and we can enforce the way it's worn. Because the way it's worn sometimes can be a factor. It's really changed the game in some ways. Are we out-engineering the game by creating this equipment and the way it's worn has created this style of play that I'm not sure is healthy for the game and it's allowing goalies who aren't that good to be almost as good as top goalies in the league? That differential should be as a result of talent, not as a result of equipment, so I don't think the goalies worry about being hurt by a shot anymore. They worry about the shot going through them into the net. I think it would be a better game if we addressed that and fixed it once and for all. I don't think it affects our goalies because they don't wear oversized equipment.
On whether a crackdown on equipment will keep goalies honest:
There are lots of ways to bend the rules, too, but again, the size of the pads from the knee up don't have to be as big as they are. It just takes away the whole five-hole when they go down when they wear oversized pads. They don't need that much length there. The pads on the knees behind the pads have gotten to be really big and take away the five-hole. And there are other things that goalies do, like cutting the back of their pants, pants flare open and take away the five-hole. Having the jock padded so when you drop down, the chest protector sort of hits it and stays up, makes your shoulders bigger. A lot of the goalies are wearing the pads up high now off their boot. So there's a lot to be done there. It seemed like everybody, all the managers and union representatives that were there agreed that we should address it again, so I hope they do.
On whether visors should become mandatory:
I think that the real simple question there is -- the players that are on the league can do what they want already -- but the people coming in, if this was your son or your daughter and they're in the league, would you want them to wear a visor? And I think the answer is yes. I think they should keep them on.
On other league-wide issues he feels strongly about:
I actually had an issue for the GMs to discuss and we'll see where it goes, but years ago, we were playing a game and we had generated a pretty good scoring chance and we shot the puck -- it took a while to get the scoring chance, we were cycling -- and it hit the post, the crossbar and went out of the building. I thought for a minute, I was like, 'Why does that faceoff now come out of our zone. We just tried a scoring chance, it didn't work, why are we sort of penalized by not having the faceoff in the zone. Why do we take it out?' So I brought it up in a meeting with the GMs and everybody seemed to like it and we changed it. And now I wonder if we shouldn't go further. If you're in the offensive zone and you create a scoring chance and you fire the puck and one of your guys deflects it but it goes out of the building, it's a scoring chance that didn't go right, but you generated a scoring chance, why take it outside of the zone? ... If Ovi's driving the net and gets pulled down and knocks the net off, why should the faceoff come out? If you're trying to dump it, I bat it and it goes out, why should it come out? I think it might be something to talk about and I asked all the GMs to sort of watch it for the rest of the year and see what they think. It may create more scoring chances off of faceoffs in the offensive zone and when you move it out to the neutral zone, even if you win the faceoff, you can't skate it in anymore. You have to dump it back in. Why do we want to play out in the neutral zone? Why don't we have it in the offensive zone? So that's something that I talked about and I think it does two things: it may generate more offensive chances, but it may simplify the game for the referees, too. There's a lot to watch out there. It's become more complicated for them and so maybe it's best for them that the only thing they have to watch now in terms of pucks going out of the playing service is if the defending team shot it out. Other than that, everything stays in.
On the rash of delay of game penalties for shooting the puck out of play:
I can't speak for the other GMs. I don't know what the sentiment is there, but I don't think there's any appetite to change that rule. I personally like the rule because you want it to be a skill game and too often -- and I know what it was like as a forward playing at the amateur or at the pro level -- to be working really hard to get a scoring chance and you've got the defending team on the run and they're tired and one of them gets their hands on it and just fire out out of the zone or out into the crowd to get a faceoff and all of your work is gone. You require those guys to try to make a play. We don't want to dumb down the skill and the thinking, you want them to have to make a play and reward the teams that are doing the right things.