1. CHANGE THE POINTS SYSTEM
Ending more games in overtime to reduce shootouts is a good first step. The next one is to make all games worth the same number of points: three for a regulation victory, two for an overtime or shootout victory and one for an overtime or shootout loss. This would be a major commitment and affect league record books, but it's the right move.
2. MAKE EMBELLISHMENT PENALTIES MORE PUNITIVE
The NHL is already fining and publicly shaming repeat offenders by naming them. But the fines of US$2,000-$5,000 are not punitive. One way to cut down on the embellishment is to make it a double minor penalty to create an in-game disincentive. This also goes for goaltenders, who can be some of the worst offenders.
3. REMOVE THE TRAPEZOID
Martin Brodeur has retired, and the rule that went into effect because of the soon-to-be Hall of Fame goaltender could easily be retired, too. Goalies trying to play the puck in the corners could create some more havoc and offence, and it would also make the game safer for defencemen who have to turn their backs to forecheckers to go back and get it.
4. GO TO 4-ON-4 FOR COINCIDENTAL MINOR PENALTIES
Most rule changes since the 2004-05 lockout have been made to produce more offence. More ice means more room for stars to make plays and, in turn, score goals. There will still be plenty of five-on-five play the rest of regulation, but opening up the game can't be a bad thing.
5. OUTLAW HAND PASSES IN THE DEFENSIVE ZONE
It's all about more goals, and hampering defending players in their own end is part of that process. Faceoff changes will make it tougher on centres counted on to take defensive-zone draws, and making hand passes illegal — either by penalty or just a whistle — should make for more attack-zone time.