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GM tired of low-scoring affairs Sabres' scoring output has fallen dramatically

Darcy Regier made it clear it's not sour grapes. His feelings would be the same even if his Buffalo Sabres weren't struggling.

And his feelings are, the NHL should change its rules.

Like many, the Sabres general manager has quickly grown tired of low-scoring games. Unlike many, he is in position to get his ideas heard. They range from smaller equipment to bigger nets to prohibiting diving.

"It's not about whether we're winning or losing," Regier said. "It's about when I watch games, it's about the excitement. It's a great game. Even now it's a great game. But we've got an opportunity, I think an obligation, to make it more exciting.

"I don't want to go back -- no one does -- to an era where we just kind of clog the game up. It's important to create the flow and the excitement, and the skill players to have the room to demonstrate their skills."

The Sabres' goals-per-game average has dropped from 3.63 last season to 2.75 entering Thursday's meeting with Ottawa. There is a slighter dip throughout the league, but there's a dip nonetheless. History suggests scoring will continue to drop, and Regier wants to prevent that.

"Goalies have to get smaller or the nets have to get larger," Regier said. "That goalie has to get significantly smaller for the likelihood of an outside shot to go in. If we can't make the goalies smaller, then I don't know what other options we have but to consider making the nets larger."

He added that if the nets get bigger, it must be a significant increase. He argued that just a small bump would put teams into a bigger defensive shell. That's the leading cause of the scoring dip. Coaches have begun crowding their five skaters near the net, which rids the shooters of their open lanes.

"Most goals are probably scored within 30 feet," Regier said. "So it argues that if you can defend that area and protect that area, then you're less likely to get scored against."

The GM also has a few minor changes in mind. His main ones deal with players who dive to block shots or passes, or to knock the puck off a stick.

"If I'm standing up, I can't trip you," Regier said. "But we have rules in which if you're skating down the ice and I make a desperate dive and I knock the puck away from your stick first and I happen to trip you in the process, that's not a penalty. I don't know how that came about. It doesn't make any sense to me. If I trip you, I trip you, whether I'm laying on the ice or standing up.

"It's so easy to go down and slide [to block a shot or pass], and the skill that you have to have developed to overcome nothing more than a slide is enormous. You have to have great hands, great puck control, great passing skills to put the puck over the top of that defender.

"If we don't want to make bigger changes, then we need to make minor changes that will allow for continuous improvement."

Regier would like to see the league create a research and development center to test rules and ensure the ideal balance between offense and defense. And right now, the balance has shifted toward defense.

"It still comes down really to two things," Regier said. "The players playing the game and the future players playing the game have to choose to play this game because it's the most fun game of any game available to play. That ensures the top athletes in this sport.

"The other part of it is the people in the stands have to say this is the most fun game to come watch, the most entertaining product to come watch of any of the sports we can attend. That's the challenge."


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