Tag Archives: hockey

Experimenting with Pro Sports

Here's a very interesting article about the NHL's R&D program:

The truth is, such a mess would be improbable at best on Bettman’s watch. Under him, the NHL, sometimes under fierce criticism, has become perhaps the most research-friendly of the major professional team sports leagues in North America when it comes to the conduct and rules of the game. It wasn’t always so. In 1998, when the league had a Fox TV contract and arranged for a Las Vegas IHL game to be played in a four-quarter format, the experimentation was met with catcalls. The improvised research and development camp held toward the end of the 2004-’05 lockout was viewed as a desperation measure.

But the more carefully planned R & D camp held last month has mostly been welcomed and applauded. The scrimmages, held at the Maple Leafs’ practice facility on Aug. 18 and 19, featured some jarring, Martian-looking innovations. The players—who were, in an attention-getting wrinkle, mostly top junior stars eligible for the 2011 draft—road-tested everything from two-on-two overtime to shallower nets to having the second referee view the play from an elevated off-ice platform. On day two, viewers were confronted with the bizarre spectacle of the traditional five faceoff circles being replaced by three, running up the middle of the rink.

Such an exercise is unique among the staple North American sports. If major league baseball’s powers-that-be ever got a notion to play experimental games using five bases and four strikes, they would surely do so on a closely guarded Pacific atoll.

My roommate in college once stated that the NBA would be infinitely more interesting if they put circles on the floor at various places between the three point lines and were rewarded with higher points the farther away the circle was from the basket.  So if you hit a shot from beyond half court you'd get six points.  I laughed at first, but the more I thought about it the more I liked it.  Actually I thought that you could set up zones in between the three point lines (circles being a little to easy to guard). I really think it would bring about the rise of the "designated heaver" which might keep some old guys in the league much like the designated hitter does in baseball.

Oh, and don't get me started on baseball.  Anything they can do to keep me awake past the third inning would be welcome.