Around the League

The impact of the larger “Gretzky Office”


Earlier this offseason, the NHL approved a few changes, ranging from smaller goalie equipment to shallower nets. Justin discussed the smaller goalie equipment, you can read his piece from the link provided in the previous sentence, but the shallower nets are something that few have discussed. The nets were made smaller from behind, but the size of the opening remain unchanged. The nets themselves were not made smaller, but the dimensions were changed in an attempt to open scoring a bit from behind the net.

The area behind the net is known as Gretzky’s Office. As you can imagine, it is an area where playmakers set up and see the play develop from behind the net. Gretzky was particularly adept at seeing the entire play develop and set up his scorers with perfect passes. While Gretzky’s Office is not utilized as much anymore, it is still an area where playmakers can sit and read the play for offensive chances.

Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch has delved into the impact of the new nets, with images to show the changes, and has a couple of nice tidbits regarding the new shape:

“You’re probably going to notice it a lot on wrap-arounds,” said former NHL player Chris Clark, now the Blue Jackets’ director of player development. “Those times when the goaltender gets his leg across just in time to cover the other post? Those might be goals now.

The shallower nets will expand “Gretzky’s office,” that space behind the net where playmakers feast. As the new frame doesn’t jut out so much, the path from post to post from behind the net will be shorter. (Who knew Euclid would apply so well to hockey?)

These are two very interesting points. We have rarely seen a successful wrap around, as most players choose to take the puck out from behind the net and roof the puck on goalies on their knees. While I disagree a bit with Chris Clark –I don’t think that goalie movement is going to be effected by the new alignment– I do think that we will see more scoring chances originate from behind the net.

One other area where we might see a change is in the offensive breakout. Defending a breakout is difficult, but the one rule of thumb is to never follow the puck behind the net. You wind up trapped as the opposition breaks out with a man advantage. The shallower nets allow for more skating room, which means more chance for a defender to build up steam and get back to cancel the breakout. Of course, this means that there is more room for the defenseman to make that first breakout pass. It’s a give and take here.

This is another step made by the NHL to increase goal scoring without increasing the size of the goal mount itself. I believe they are delaying the inevitable, especially with the safety concerns Justin brought up with the smaller pads, but this is a step in the right direction. I, for one, and interested to see how the new shape of the nets affects scoring, if at all.

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  • What the NHL did here is make the top shelf of the goal shallower. More TV reviews on those top shelf goals making the game take longer. Then next summer we will all be crying for the old nets back. There’s no room for a net cam in there. It’s going to be hitting the goalies back. Why do they need more goals for. The game is the way it is because of a 100 years of culture.

    • They make small enough cameras these days. I doubt that will be an issue. The game is the way it is because changes have been made along the way regarding advancement of equipment and conditioning. The game will continue to change in those small ways through the years

  • Scoring is actually down. And the more you change the game. The less relevant any records or stats will be compared to the old game. We will get to the point that comparing anyone to old players is moot. It almost already is. Remember the two line pass? The rule that the great one and Lemieux had to cope with? Made it harder to enter the zone. But those guys put up serious points.

    The more you “open it up” the more the defense will clamp down. Is scoring up since the removal of the two line pass? No it’s down. Is scoring up with the trapezoid? No it’s down.

    Want to score more goals? Make the players wear less pads? Them people won’t block shots because they will get injured. Or get rid of the penalty box and give every minor penalty a penalty shot.

  • Higher scoring is needed to market the game to a broader cross section of potential viewers. In the end it does not increase the value of the game as it will diminish the suspense of lower scoring games.

    In addition there will be fewer shootouts if the scoring is higher. Lower scoring increases the chance of tie games.

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