All 31 NHL general managers met in Montreal on Friday for the annual GM Meetings to discuss important league policies and procedures. Despite little conversation on the topic arising beforehand, Sportsnet insiders Christ Johnston and Elliotte Friedman report that one of the major issues discussed was potential changes to minor penalties, specifically the length of certain minor penalties and the length of minor penalties in overtime.
What exactly was discussed? While the league has expressed its pleasure with the cleaner game this season as a result of tighter penalty calls, it has now come to the attention of all GM’s that perhaps not all minor penalties are worthy of the same penalty. The solution debated Friday was instituting one-minute minors. Johnston reports that two-minute minor penalties in overtime, where each and every second is amplified, are perhaps too punitive in regards to a five-minute period. A one-minute minor for all minors in OT would still allow for the drawing team to have an advantage, without eliminating the scoring chance of the penalized team for nearly half of the overtime frame. Friedman continued that besides the situational OT one-minute minors, GM’s discussed cutting a pair of controversial minor penalties in half during regular time as well. Unsurprisingly, these two penalties are delay of game and face-off violation. The delay of game penalty for putting the puck over the glass has been criticized since its inception for unduly harming a team for what is almost always a pure accident. The new face-off violation penalty has also been seen as unworthy or penalty status, though the frequency of the call has dropped off substantially from the preseason to the regular season.
A change in penalty time in the overtime period would be a novel move for the NHL; something unseen in most major sports. The change in time for specific minor penalties though would not be unlike lacrosse, in which most leagues use a wide range of different penalty lengths depending on the infraction. It is an intriguing idea that is just in its infancy, but variable minor penalty times could serve to benefit the NHL.