Today at the NHL RDO Camp

The NHL held the first day of its two-day Research, Development and Orientation camp today at the MasterCard Centre for Hockey Excellence in Etobicoke, Ontario. One of the most interesting (and, we feel, logical) experiments was the addition of a green “verification line” behind the goal line.

The green line is just over three inches behind the goal line which is the size of a hockey puck. Any puck that is touching that line would therefore be beyond the red goal line and be counted as a goal. This line would help determine whether or not a goal should be counted. It looks like it would really help in the video review process. If you can’t see that the puck has crossed the goal line, but you can see that it’s touching the verification line, you know it’s a good goal.

Obviously this wouldn’t solve all of the problems involving video review, but it would certainly help.

The verification line wasn’t the only thing the NHL tested today.

The camp also looked at having a clear plastic cover along the top and bottom of the nets that would make it easier to see if the puck had crossed the line. The nets in these photos also appear to be of the “shallow-back” variety, though we’re not 100% sure of that. Shallow-back nets were also tested during today’s camp.

This video from Puck Daddy shows an example of three-on-three overtime in action. The proposal displayed at the RDO camp was that the teams would play four minutes of four-on-four overtime and then three minutes of three-on-three until a goal was scored. The idea of having a portion of the game played three-on-three still seems a little strange to us.

“I like the 3-on-3,” said Brendan Shanahan, the NHL’s Senior Vice President of Hockey Operations and Player Safety. “I enjoy the way overtime currently is, but I think 3-on-3 certainly is an interesting alternative if we ever need to go there one day.”

Different variations of a five-man shootout were tested as well. One saw five players from each side get a chance to score before the contest turned into a sudden death format (up from the current three players per team.) The next variation allowed teams to repeat players after the first five have gone, rather than needing to go through the entire team first.

Other changes that were tried out included no-touch icing, not allowing a line change for a team that just committed an offside, enforcing icing for teams that are shorthanded and several faceoff variations.

However, just because something was tested at camp, that doesn’t mean the changes are going to be implemented any time soon, if at all.

“We love the way the game is being played by our players. We think that the game is an entertaining game for the fans, and we think that it’s a great time to study it,” said Shanahan. “This is research and development. It’s what many companies do, what many corporations do. That’s what we’re doing. It’s not a knee-jerk reaction to anything that we feel is wrong with the game.”

The camp continues tomorrow and a few very interesting ideas will be looked at including “hybrid” icing, some twists to the NHL All-Star Game skills competition, allowing to wrap their arms around their opponent and take him into the boards (the “bear hug rule”) and the idea that all penalties should be served in their entirety, regardless of whether or not a goal is scored.

Capitals coach Bruce Boudeau had something to say about the proposed power play changes:

I know the reason they changed that rule in the ’50s was because the Montreal Canadiens’ power-play was too good. And how would that reflect on a five-on-three? I mean, I think it’s unfair, 5-on-3, for two minutes. And in this era of a really tight-checking five-on-five game, it’s really difficult to come back from that stretch.

If you do those things – stay the two minutes, you can’t ice it – are we putting more emphasis on the games being won totally on special teams?