College hockey coaches gather every May in Naples, Fla., for the American Hockey Coaches Association Convention, where they get a chance to catch up, maybe golf a little and review the season.
Every other year, the coaches also suggest rule changes to the NCAA, but that won’t be the case this summer. This convention was not a rule-change proposal year. Instead, it was a discussion year, with evaluation of the rules that were added last season and suggestions to improve the game.
“When we’re non-rule-change year, we’re really looking at, ‘What did you like off the last year? What do we need to change? What do you foresee moving forward,’ ’’ Gophers men’s coach Bob Motzko said.
Motzko came back with a few highlights from the convention:
The NCAA’s new recruiting rule wasn’t a big topic.
In an effort to eliminate the recruiting of players as young as 13 or 14, the NCAA adopted a new rule that bars coaches from communicating with recruits until Jan. 1 of their sophomore year and doesn’t allow scholarship offers until Aug. 1 of their junior year. The rule went into effect May 1, and there were few discussions of it in Florida.
“That diffused our conversations because [the rule] is in,’’ Motzko said. “Usually, that would tackle hours of talk time down there. I don’t think we spent two minutes because it’s in.
“It’s a great that that it’s in, and it’s a great thing for young kids, first and foremost,’’ he added. “It puts some normalcy back in their lives where they can go be a kid.’’
The length and use of video review was a hot topic.
“That’s the big one, because it needs to be cleaned up,’’ Motzko said, pointing to the length of games. “There was great debate about what currently can be reviewed and how we get to it.’’
The consensus among coaches was that all goals and major penalties continue to be reviewed. Coaches had differing opinions on reviews involved offsides, and count Motzko among those who’d rather have the on-ice officials’ calls of offsides stand.
“My personal opinion is I think we go away from reviewing offsides,’’ he said. “We have two linesmen out there and your foot is a centimeter off, when slow-motion freezing it. How many goals in the history of hockey would not have been goals if you would’ve reviewed back to the foot being in the air, not in the air, one foot over? Let our referees dictate that. … That could save a lot of time if you took offsides out of it.’’
Too much time spent reviewing plays, Motzko indicated, turns off fans. “TV will tell you: For every replay that lasts so long, people will turn the channel,’’ he said.
Overtime still is a hot topic.
Last summer, the NCAA reversed course on overtime rules, first banning, then allowing the use of three-on-three overtime and a shootout after a five-minute five-on-five OT period. The rule is not uniform among conferences, with the NCHC, WCHA and Big Ten using the three-on-three, plus shootout for an extra point in the conference standings, while others ending the game after five-on-five OT.
In Naples, the differences remained. “Everyone wants to have unity, as long as it’s what THEY want,’’ Motzko said. “There was great dialogue. … It may not be the perfect one right now, but fans and players seem to really embrace three-on-three.’’
Coaches agreed uniformly on one thing regarding OT. “We want five-on-five hockey to dictate who gets in the [NCAA tournament],’’ Motzko said, pointing to three-on-three and shootouts continuing to not count in the PairWise Ratings.
Motzko mentioned the discussion of going straight to three-on-three OT after regulation, like the NHL does, rather than five minutes of five-on-five OT then three-on-three. “The real issue is length of game time,’’ he said. “The shorter window helps TV.’’
NCAA regionals likely will remain at neutral sites, rather than returning to campus sites.
The NCAA awarded its regional tournament sites for 2020 and ’21 in April, and all eight were given to arenas not on a college campus. Motzko expects that to continue.
“A majority of the feeling in the body was to stay with neutrality,’’ he said. “There was a small appetite to see the first round back on campus.’’