Last week, we tried to fix the NHL. We increased scoring, improved the standings, ended diving, and reduced (but didn’t eliminate) fighting. We killed the puck-over-glass penalty and brought back home whites. And most importantly of all, we made Gary Bettman sad.
And then we asked you for your suggestions, and you responded. Did you ever respond. We received more than a hundred reader suggestions, ranging from minor tweaks to massive overhauls. Some of you wrote a few lines, some wrote a few paragraphs, and some of you sent what can only be described as full-on manifestos. (Especially you realignment folks. Good lord, you people are detailed.)
Only a small percentage of that feedback could be included below, but we read every word of it. And it reaffirmed our suspicion that the average hockey fan could do a far better job of running this league than the leaders we have now. Somehow, that’s both inspiring and depressing.
This was an exceptional year for college basketball, in the sense that you had to be an exceptional obsessive just to enjoy an average game. The wonderful championship battle between Louisville and Michigan was a happy fluke, a last-ditch saving grace for a season when scoring dipped to levels not seen since 1952, an era of short shorts and underhand free throws when there was no shot clock and no 3-pointer.* Overall field goal percentage hit its lowest point since 1964, and there has never been a worse year for 3-point shooting. Somehow, the game stopped being fun.
In addition to being the year of the upset, the year of the hot goaltender, and the year of complaining incessantly about suspension decisions, the 2012 NHL playoffs are quickly becoming the year of the “puck over the glass” penalty. The call has come up so often in this year’s playoffs that Canadian sports network TSN has started keeping track of it on a big board. They’ve already counted more than 20.
I have my own big board, and it keeps track of how many times the penalty should have been called: zero. That’s because the puck-over-glass rule is the single dumbest rule in hockey, and maybe in all of sports.