The NHL is like Scottish weather: If you don't like it, wait 10 minutes, it'll change. Clearly there were enough unhappy fans—as reflected in last season's disastrous TV ratings—that the eager-to-please league, perennially insecure about its wonderful game, did some overhauling.
The most dramatic changes took aim at last season's pathetic 5.28 goals-per-game average, the lowest in 42 years. Four feet has been taken from the length of neutral ice and has been used to add two feet to the space behind each net to give creative centers such as Wayne Gretzky more room to make plays, and the size of the crease has been reduced to allow scorers to get closer to the net. Watching over this hopped-up offense will be two referees (instead of one, on a trial basis of 20 games for each team), an experiment that will escalate the NHL's war on obstruction.
What else is new? The Nashville Predators have entered the league as an expansion team, and the Toronto Maple Leafs have switched to the Eastern Conference as the league realigned into three divisions in each conference. Oh, there will be one more big change: a new Stanley Cup champion, the Dallas Stars.
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