9/15/18 By Andrew Walsh
One of the main complaints about the current state of the NHL is the fact that there is not enough scoring in today’s game. Going back 50 years as a frame of reference, the Stanley Cup champion in 1967 was the Montreal Canadiens. That year the Hart Trophy (given to the league’s most valuable player) winner was Stan Mikita, who played center and right wing. Games in the past used to routinely end with six goals being scored by the winning team. This is not the case in the NHL today. How should the league begin to fix this problem with a lack of scoring?
Goals scored on the power play from behind the blue line should count for two goals. Sound outlandish, maybe, but not as outlandish as the NBA having a three point shot from behind the arc that is painted at a maximum distance of 23.75’ from the basket. The distance from the blue line to the goal line on an NHL rink is 64’ from the back of the goal lines. The blue lines shall extend across the width of the rink, parallel with the goal lines and extend vertically up the entire height of the side boards, according to USA Hockey.
The American Basketball League was first to institute the three point shot in 1961. This was short-lived as the league disbanded one year later. The American Basketball Association, which merged with the NBA instituted the three-point shot before the 1967 season. The thinking behind the institution of a 3-point shot in the NBA is that shots from further away are more difficult to make (as evidenced by the fact that the percentage of shots from behind the arc is lower than that of shots made inside the arc). One team that has solved this “problem” is the Gold State Warriors. They have forced the other teams in the NBA to begin to shoot 3-point shots at a similar rate or face being blown out of every game they play in.
In 2017 the Golden State Warriors made 1,025 3-point shots, the most in NBA history. They seem to have created a market inefficiency by attempting more 3-point shots than any other team in the league. Teams are not even trying to compete with them because they feel the Warriors have such a good team that there is no chance they will win. This is something that is seen to have hurt the NBA with the casual fan. The fact that the Warriors are so much fun to watch as a team is being lost because they are so much better than the rest of the league.
Just think of the possibility of an NHL game coming down to the last minute of play, with one team behind by only one goal. In the game today, most teams would pull their goalie in order to have one extra attacker on the ice to put pressure on the team who is ahead. With my proposed rule change, this would not be necessary because the team that is behind could just draw up a play where their best player falls behind the other players on his team and receives a pass and shoots the puck from behind the blue line. This would create an experience for the fans in the final minutes of the game that could not be matched by any other sport.
The obvious difference between the two sports and the proposed additional goal for scoring from behind the blue line is that there are no teams in the NHL that have such a talented roster that when shooting from behind the blue line they are more likely to score at a higher clip than any other team in the NHL. Another difference between the two sports is the fact that there is a player on the ice at all times, the goalie, whose job it is to stop pucks from going into the net. There is no such defender in basketball.
There are many other things that the NHL could do in order to increase scoring in the league. This is not one of the things that NHL fans who are used to watching the traditional game would be happy with in the beginning. However, if a lack of scoring is a reason people who do not watch hockey on a regular basis give as to why they do not like to watch the sport, this two point shot is a fix for that.