NBA teams score about 40 field goals per game on average, not counting free throws. NHL teams score about 3 goals per game on average. Per minute of play, the number of field goals in an NBA game is about 16.5 times higher than the number of goals in an NHL game. An NHL team would need to score about 50 goals in a game to equalize those figures.
The basketball-inspired alternative version of hockey I’m about to describe probably won’t have 50 goals per team per game, but it will have a lot more than 3. Its purpose however is not just to maximize scoring opportunities. Even more than that, it is meant to increase the number of highlight-reel saves.
In the NHL, despite the fact that the skill level and consistency of goalies is spectacular, there are not actually many individual saves that are highlight-reel worthy. (Broadcasters pretend otherwise though, hyping every save that looks even remotely impressive because they want to make the game seem as exciting as possible and want to give goalies their due). It’s hard to have lots of highlight-reel saves when the goalies are so big compared to the size of the nets.
The rules of basketball-style hockey are meant, in part, to amend this. Partly this is achieved by increasing the size of the net (see image below), and by playing 4 on 4. But it is also achieved by using a point-incentive system that is a tiny bit similar to basketball’s. In this system, you will get 1 point for scoring a goal when either you or a teammate of yours has at least one skate inside of your opponent’s goal-crease. (The goal creases, like the nets, will also be much bigger than in normal hockey). But you will get 2 points for a goal scored when neither you nor any of your teammates have a skate inside your opponent’s crease.
As a result, you are incentivized to at least sometimes attempt shots in which the goalie will have a relatively unobstructed or undeflected chance at making a save. Each save, however, will be more difficult because of the bigger size of the nets.
Whereas in basketball shot difficulty tends to increase the further away from the net you get, in hockey the crucial factor determining shot difficulty is the amount of traffic in front of the net. This point system reflects that. Just as basketball’s point system incentivizes taking more shots further away than you otherwise would, basketball-style hockey’s point system incentivizes taking more unobstructed shots than you otherwise would. 4 on 4 will also lead to more unobstructed shots. Together, and combined with the larger nets, this will lead to many more goals and many more great saves than in normal hockey.
The full rules of basketball-style hockey include the following:
- The net and the goal crease are both much bigger than in normal hockey
- You get 2 points for goal scored when neither you nor any of your teammates are standing in the goalie crease. You get 1 point for a goal scored when you or one of your teammates was in the crease
- The game is played 4-on-4
- Play doesn’t stop when a goal is scored or when a goalie makes a save. Rather the goalie gets five seconds to throw or pass the puck back into play after a goal or a save. Opposing players cannot enter the goalie crease during these 5 seconds. Failure to get the puck back in within 5 second results in a faceoff in the goalie’s own zone
- Power plays are 2 minutes long, and unlike normal hockey they do not end when a goal is scored
- Defensive players can get called for 3-in-the-key (3-in-the-crease) violations, so they cannot do this
- OT is 4-on-4, first team to 2 points wins
- 1 point for any goal scored on an empty net (when the goalie is pulled)
- Goalies can wear gloves on both hands without carrying a goalie stick (bandy-style) or they can use a goalie stick (hockey-style). They can switch back and forth between the two at will during the game, by putting stick down on top of the net at any time, or by switching gloves during stoppages of play
- Play will not be stopped for video-review to determine if the goal was worth 2 or 1. If it turns out the initial call was wrong regarding if a player had a skate in the crease when the goal occurred, the score will be amended during the next stoppage of play. If this happens at the very end of the game the play will be stopped for a review, but hopefully in basketball-style hockey the refs will get the video-review over with more quickly than they do in basketball itself.
- Basketball-style hockey can be played on ice or roller blades or as floor hockey, with a puck or a ball