One change in the NHL: Ideas on Olympics, refs and 'rats'

  • Members of the gold medal 1980 "Miracle on Ice" U.S. Olympic hockey team are honored prior to an NHL hockey game between the Golden Knights and the Florida Panthers, Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020, in Las Vegas.

    Members of the gold medal 1980 "Miracle on Ice" U.S. Olympic hockey team are honored prior to an NHL hockey game between the Golden Knights and the Florida Panthers, Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020, in Las Vegas. Associated Press

Updated 4/12/2020 6:29 PM

Fourth in a series

With the NHL on hiatus due to COVID-19, we thought this would be a good time to rerun our One Change in the NHL series that ran in January 2019.


We'll spray to all fields today, and begin with thoughts about the Olympics.

• Former Blackhawks goaltender Scott Darling and Predators forward Filip Forsberg want to see players participate in the Olympics again.

Said Forsberg: "Growing up I was watching all of the Olympics and obviously my biggest memory was when Sweden won the gold in 2006. It's a great honor on the biggest stage possible for your country. I don't see why we wouldn't be there."

Dietz's thoughts: Totally disagree. The Olympics were created to showcase the best amateur athletes of our time. Let's get back to that and keep the pros where they belong -- facing each other.

Jack O'Callahan, a defenseman on the 1980 Miracle on Ice team, said as much during an interview at the United Center on Feb. 19. And he even went a step further, saying he'd love to see a "woman's-only Olympics."

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"They compete so hard," O'Callahan said. "You don't need NHL players in the Olympics or NBA players in the Olympics. I mean we see enough of these guys.

"Let's watch some of these great women compete. It's some of the greatest drama and emotion you'll ever see. The Olympics is a great place for that."

• Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf wants more accountability from the referees. "I feel like they should have to A) face the press and B) do a better job translating it to the ice for the players.

"We should have meetings with them before the season. I feel like too much is in their hands. To me the game is going the wrong direction. ...

"The flow of the game (stinks). They're kicking guys out of draws. They're worried too much about controlling the game."


Dietz's thoughts: Sounds good to me. We hear from the players and coaches after controversial calls. Why not the refs? No doubt, fans would still gripe after hearing explanations, but I'm sure there would be times when they'll also say: "OK. That makes sense."

One can hope anyway.

• Duncan Keith believes coaches should not be able to call a practice or morning skate for 12 hours after the team's plane lands.

"It's tough on people's bodies," Keith said.

Right now, the CBA calls for at least nine hours off "between the time that they arrive at the team's hotel on a road trip" and when they must report to practice or a "work-related activity."

Dietz's thoughts: When a future Hall of Famer like Keith talks, the league should listen.

•  Las Vegas forward Ryan Reaves wants to get rid of the instigator rule.

"Make hockey violent again," he said. "Guys can take liberties on players without repercussions. That didn't happen back in the day. You had to answer the bell if you did something stupid.

"Now you can get away with being a little rat."

Dietz's thoughts: Credit Reaves for the quote of the series. Fans just ate up the "little rat" comment.

As for the rule change, Daily Herald columnist Barry Rozner made the same suggestion in the writer's portion of our series. Hold "rats" accountable and they are much less likely to be snipping at opponents' heels.

And by extension, you've just made the game that much safer.

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