League to unveil two prototypes

Updated: April 1, 2005, 3:33 AM ET
The Hockey News

The NHL has developed two prototypes for bigger nets that will be shown to GMs at their upcoming meetings in Detroit.

NHL senior vice president Colin Campbell told The Hockey News the league will ask GMs to view and consider the two super-sized net models at their "improve the game" summit, scheduled for April 8-9.

No decision has been made to use the bigger nets in NHL play.

Campbell said one net features pegs that remain six feet apart at the base, but has bars that curve out at the sides to make the goal larger. The second net is two inches bigger all around, both in height and width. Nets are currently six feet wide by four feet high.

With scoring and excitement on the decline, the NHL has been under pressure to make adjustments to open up the game. When the lockout ends, it is almost certain the NHL will introduce shootouts to end tie games in the regular season. The league is also looking at decreasing the size of goalie pads and has a host of other potential changes on the table. Now, bigger nets are officially part of the discussion.

"When we were talking about making changes to goalie equipment in the past few years, I had two respected coaches - Roger Neilson and Jacques Demers - say to me, 'Why don't you just make the nets bigger?' " Campbell said. "Basketball has its three-point play which rewards teams for taking risks on offense. We don't have that. Do you take a long shot late in a game when you know the odds of scoring are very low? No. Instead you drop back and play defense. We need to find a way to reward teams for taking chances on offense to encourage coaches to coach a more offensive style."

Campbell said that because of the lockout, other aspects of the game are being unfairly criticized. However, with so much time off during the lockout, the league has a responsibility to look at ways of making hockey more entertaining, he said. Increasing the size of the nets is just one idea.

"It is as simple as asking, 'Is it a viable alternative and will it enhance the game?' " Campbell said. "It doesn't necessarily mean there will automatically be more goals, but wouldn't it be better for the game if there was the opportunity to score more goals? Hockey purists may say no, and I was in that group six months ago. But I now think we need to at least consider ways to increase scoring chances."

Campbell said the nets may be used in some ECHL games this season. The ECHL regular season ends April 9.

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