NHL Tinkering With Rules

During this year’s NHL Research and Development camp, the NHL will be testing out roughly a dozen proposed rule changes. Of the proposed rule changes, some are designed to increase action, others are designed to increase player safety. Some are good ideas, and some are just stupid. Let’s break it down:

The Good:

  • Hybrid icing: Icing will be called instantly when the puck crosses the goal line, unless there is a race for the puck. If the attacker is the clear winner of the race for the puck, then no icing is called. If the defender is the clear winner, icing will be called before touch up. This is a good compromise for both sides of the argument, as it still keeps the race for the puck as an integral part of the game, without endangering player safety.
  • Verification goal line: This adds another goal line behind the current goal line, presumably to give goal judges a clearly defined line of when the puck will officially cross the initial goal line. This should lead to less lengthy replays, and hopefully less missed goals.
  • Wider blue lines: I like this because it should lead to less offsides, less whistles, and hopefully a continued flow of the game. For some reason, the NHL seems to think that fans want more goals. Sure, that’s nice, but less whistles and more flow is better.

The OK:

  • Second ref off the ice: I like this because it frees up some space on the ice, and may potentially lead to reverting to the one ref system. Nothing pisses me off more than the ref at center ice making a phantom call, like a hooking penalty on Chris Drury when he doesn’t even have a stick. Wow, was I heated after that one.
  • Wider creases: As long as this one comes with a corollary that allows a goalie to be bumped into if he is outside of the crease, I’m all for it. However, the refs need the cojones to swallow the whistle in that scenario.
  • New OT rules: There are a few variations here, but most seem to be a "countdown" style, in which OT begins 4 on 4 for a few minutes, then 3 on 3, then 2 on 2, then a shootout. There are a few different proposals, but until the NHL begins awarding three points for a regulation win, it won’t solve much.
  • Face-off variations: There are a few variations here. In essence, these rules are designed to prevent teams from jumping the gun on face-offs, with the penalties ranging from moving away from the face-off dot, to your opponent choosing who your replacement in the circle is. Not bad, but what does it really accomplish?

The Stupid:

  • No line change after offsides: It’s not like teams intentionally go offsides to get a stoppage. Icing sure, but offsides? Come on. Oh, and if you screw up and go offsides, the face-off comes back to your defensive zone. This is just epically retarded.
  • No icing the puck while shorthanded: How else are you supposed to get a line change when killing a penalty? This is a really stupid attempt at trying to get more scoring.
  • Line change zones: This won’t exactly prevent too many men penalties, and just adds more lines to an already crowded ice surface. This game is tough enough to learn without adding more stuff to the ice.

Some of the rules are legitimately good ideas designed to increase the flow of the game and others are just really stupid, but most appear to be tinkering with rules that are worth taking a look at to see if they work. In the end, it is unlikely these will be implemented at the NHL level for a few years, as generally rules go through the AHL first. Despite all these proposed rule changes, that ridiculous trapezoid still exists. Even Ranger fans want that one gone, and Henrik Lundqvist could be the worst puck handling goaltender in the league.

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