Photo: NBC Sports

I was sitting on the dock in Muskoka on Wednesday, sucking on a Labatt’s and watching the kids splash around the lake, when it dawned on me: “Hold it! I’m in Canada! I can watch TSN!!!”

I’d been there four days already. Apparently when I cross the border I lose many important brain cells, even before I start drinking.

One of the things I like most about my parents’ place up north is the 365-days-a-year hockey coverage in the national media. TSN’s SportsCentre (love the spelling) program led with the NHL’s R&D Camp coverage, including a brief round table with three NHL GM’s, to discuss the proposed rules changes that were tested at the camp thus far. I have a feeling that if I had been able to watch the ESPN SportsCenter broadcast that night, they would have led with coverage of whether Chad Ochocinco had shaved his balls that morning, followed by whichever NASCAR driver had a hissy fit at qualifying, and spent exactly zero time on R&D camp.

Man, do I miss my homeland. They have their priorities in order.

For those of you who don’t follow it that closely, R&D camp is an attempt to further fuck up what was already fucked up at the last camp under the guise of making better something that was just fine before they started fucking with it. Brendan Shanahan gathers together a bunch of guinea pig players and turns them into marionettes for the 30 NHL GM’s who think they can make the game better. What results is an almost scripted three-day charade that falls into the category of “so-ridiculous-it-would-be-funny-if-it-weren’t-so-heinous.”

If you want to make the game better, rescind all rules changes made since 1967, and write into the league by-laws that no rules changes will be permitted from that point onward. This is the most storied league in the history of sport, and these idiots are turning it into a game of playground FourSquare. Every person participating in this nonsense should be shot, then beaten to death, then banned from further participation in hockey at any level.

So. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, here’s what you need to know about this year’s Ruin & Destroy Camp.

To my way of thinking, rules changes fall into two categories: rules that affect play, and rules that affect the other aspects of the game. For instance: 5-on-5 during matching minor penalties affects play; moving to two referees and two linesman does not. My primary objection is to rules that affect play. So in the area of rules that do not affect play, here’s what you can expect to see either this year or next.

Curved glass at impact points: This has, apparently, been installed in many rinks already. It is a direct result of the Zdeno Chara hit on Max Pacioretty in Montreal last year. If this is the best they could come up with, then we seriously need to fire a LOT of people. Why? The angle of the curve is preposterous. Take one of those tennis ball launchers and mount it so the launch tube is parallel to the boards. Fire a tennis ball at a padded, flat stanchion. The ball will bounce off about a foot and drop to the ice. Now fire the same ball from the same angle at a piece of unpadded, curved glass. It will ricochet out into the middle of the ice with only a minimal amount of energy lost in the bounce. When you see the design you’ll understand why. This will result in more injuries, and more severe injuries. It’s like trying to stop fires by taking out the extinguishers and replacing them with cans of compressed propane. Will it be implemented? Yep.

So-called “verification line”: This is an additional green line positioned inside the net at a location where the gap between the goal line and the verification line is precisely the width of the puck when sitting flat on the ice. The idea is to give the video reviewers additional help in making the goal/no-goal call — if  the puck touches the verification line, even if you can’t see if it’s over the goal line, it’s a goal. Within reason, any change that helps the officials get the call right is a good one, and this is within reason. Will it be implemented? Yep.

Clear plastic in key areas of the net: Another simple improvement to help the officials with goal/no-goal calls. Fully 50% of the top of the net becomes clear plexi-glass, as well as areas where on-ice officials will be assisted by the removal of the netting. The only question is, can they modify the nets fast enough to have it ready for the start of the regular season. Will it be implemented? Yep.

In our next installment we will take a look at the HUGE number of proposed changes to the way the game is played. Icing, off-sides, face-offs, penalties, line changes, overtime, shootouts, and net size are all on the operating table, plus many more. There’s only one that actually should be implemented — but it won’t be. Check back later this week to read up on the details.

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As an aside, having just heard Brian Burke’s comments on the R&D Camp, I can say with all honesty that the man is a useless waste of oxygen. He still thinks this is 1973, and his attitude about the game and its players reflects that. He is one of the last remaining dinosaurs in the mode of Uncle Bob Pulford (I’ll tell you that story someday), and the sooner he’s out of the league the better the game will be.

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