Enhance your experience: Bubble-top hockey

I wonder how creative Alex Kovalev would get with a few more angles to bank the puck off of.

Across the SB Nation blogging network today, you're going to see most hockey sites come up with different ways to 'enhance the experience' of hockey. Some are talking NHL hockey, some hockey in general, some... are probably going pretty far out. It's all part of a campaign SBN is doing in partnership with Samsung.

My suggestion? Let's take the best of bubble-top hockey, and unite it with the best of the on-ice game. It would be awesome.

Think about it: We all remember playing bubble-top hockey as kids. It was awesome. Sure, the long-sticked defenceman had a hard time turning, but that just added to the realism--most NHL teams have a defenceman with limited mobility. But the best part? The flow to the game (when the puck wasn't stuck in a corner). The fact that the puck always remained in play was great, so why not bring that forward into the professional leagues?

So here's how we can enhance the experience of a pro hockey game: Install a glass bubble top over all arenas.

Think about it: Erik Karlsson is behind his own net. He looks to his right; no openings. He looks to his left; no openings. So what does he do? He turns around, and flips the puck up against the boards. It rims along the bubble-top, clears the zone, and King K gets to take a rest. The boards are now even more friendly to defencemen.

Or even in the offensive end. Think about it: Jason Spezza hovers behind the offensive net. Defenders to his left and right prevent a pass out, so Spezza thinks about it for a second, and then just tries it out: He flips a backhand up the boards behind him, it wraps around the bubble and pops down right on the stick of Sergei Gonchar, who stands at the point. Sarge tees it up, and wires it home before the (excessively slow) defending team knows what hits them.

And cross-ice passes gain a new meaning. Think about it: Jesse Winchester and Zack Smith are inexplicably on a two-on-one, with Winch carrying the puck. He doesn't have a shot, and the defenceman just took away his passing lane. Or did he! Winchester sends the puck the long way around, flipping it along the curve to Z. Smith, who bats the puck heroically out of mid-air and past the opposing goaltender.

The league would also be free to do away with the ridiculous delay-of-game penalties for shooting the puck out of the playing surface, because think about it: It would be pretty much impossible to do. The delay-of-game penalty is controversial; this lets us avoid the controversy altogether by making it a non-issue.

There's also health benefits. Think about it: Fans today are constantly tasked with the chore of keeping their eyes on the play in case an errant puck (or even stick, Mats Sundin) makes it way into the stands. No more: People don't have to worry about it now. And with the league now losing far fewer pucks per game, there's a costs-savings, too!

To be honest, it seems like such a winning proposal that I have no idea why it's never been suggested before. I'm looking forward to hearing what the NHL/NHLPA competition committee has to say about the idea at next year's rule-experimentation meetings. I'd like to see bubble tops implemented by the 2012-13 season.

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