Sudden thoughts and second thoughts as the NHL makes a decision to get safer and Penguins coach Dan Bylsma makes a decision on a goaltender:
Vokoun gets the call: I’m not sure if Bylsma planned on announcing this, but Tomas Vokoun beat him to the punch by telling reporters today that he’ll be between the pipes tonight in Boston.
As a one-year member of the Capitals last season Vokoun often told reporters when he was starting, even when coaches Bruce Boudreau and Dale Hunter wanted it kept quiet.
Vokoun has allowed six goals in four periods of work in the Conference Final against the Bruins, who lead the series two games to none. Bylsma said he doesn’t need Vokoun to be perfect. “We’re looking for a solid game in between the pipes.”
Mandatory visors: The NHL’s Competition Committee has recommended that all players entering the NHL next season wear visors, a proposal that will get a unanimous agreement among the league’s Board of Governors.
The proposal comes at a time when nearly 73 percent of all NHL players already wear visors. [In case you’re wondering, the six Capitals who do not are Brooks Laich, Matt Hendricks, Jason Chimera, John Erskine, Steve Oleksy and Aaron Volpatti].
After seeing Rangers defenseman Marc Staal sidelined for the final stretch of the regular season and struggle with his vision when he tried returning to the lineup in the playoffs, this measure is long overdue.
Hybrid icings: The NHL has agreed to try this out during the 2013 preseason, but there are hockey purists who want to keep those frantic footraces to the puck in the game.
While I agree that “hustle plays” like negating an icing is a big part of the game, I don’t think it outweighs the risk of injury when players recklessly crash into the boards, hurting themselves and their opponents.
Under the proposal, an icing would be called if the defensive player arrives at the faceoff dot before the forechecking offensive player. If the offensive center arrives first, icing is waved off and play continues. If the hybrid icing saves even one player from a season-ending injury, it’s worth it.
Shallow nets: This one seemed to take everyone by surprise. The proposal is to shorten the depth of the nets by four inches. The theory is that by giving offensive players four more inches behind the net there will be an increase of offensive chances like Marcus Johansson wraparounds. Fans won’t notice a four-inch difference behind the net, but you better believe forwards, defensemen and goalies will. I’m all for it.
High-sticking reviews: Another proposal is automatic league reviews of all high-sticking infractions that result in a double minor or major. Again, if this ultimately eliminates injuries I’m all in.
Reduced equipment: This is a heads up to goalies who install extra padding behind their knees, allowing them to “kneel” in an upright position. Look for the NHL to establish set guidelines on the width of pads and the size of blockers and catching gloves.
The league is also looking into softening the players’ protective padding by possibly removing the hard capping in shoulder and elbow pads that many believe contribute to the rise in head injuries.
What are your thoughts on Vokoun, hybrid icings, visors and shallow nets and reduced equipment? Join in on the conversation.