Bring back the red line, says Tampa Bay Lightning's Steve Yzerman ahead of the GM meetings

Published Mar. 10, 2012

If Steve Yzerman has his way, the NHL will reinstate the center red line next season in order to promote the play-making he says the game sorely lacks.

"I don't like the way the game is played anymore," the Lightning general manager said Saturday. "All the rule changes we made we designed to increase the skill level, but it's become a slap shot from the far blue line and a guy chips it in and you go chase."

Reinstating the red line and, by consequence, the illegal two-line pass is just one of the issues to be discussed at the GM meetings Monday through Wednesday in Boca Raton. It piques Yzerman's interest even apart from the discussion about how reinstating the red line might reduce injuries caused by the speed of the game.

The red line was removed after the 2004-05 lockout to quicken the game and promote offense and skill. Instead, Yzerman said, it created more dump and a chase. Reinstating the red line, he said, will force defensemen to at least try to make a play or a pass "instead of just a slap shot around the boards."

A more controversial proposal, he said, is to add another line at the tops if the faceoff circles in the defensive zones "so the D coming out of the zones have to get to the line before they make a long pass."

How does Yzerman stand on some other issues?

Icing: Yzerman said he does not like the idea of no-touch icing where the call is automatic as soon as a puck crosses the goal line. The intent is good as it defends against injuries in wild races for the puck. But as Yzerman said, "It bores the game.". Instead, he favors hybrid icing in which it is up to the linesman to decide if the play should be blown dead or not. If the linesman believes an offensive player has a chance to get to the puck, he would let the play continue. If not, he would blow the play dead.

Trapezoid: If he was voting, Yzerman said he would want to get rid of the area behind the goal which are the only areas goalies can play the puck. "But it's not a big deal one way or another," he said.

Equipment: The NHL has for a while -- "three or four years, now," Yzerman said -- been talking about streamlining elbow and shoulder pads they are lighter and, consequently, less dangerous when applied to an opponent's head. Yzerman said it's time for the league and Players Association to get this done. "I don't know why it's taken so long," he said.