The NHL is holding its (now) annual Research & Development camp where they will be playing exhibition games and including a number of new rules that are being proposed to help move the game in a good direction. The games will be played by a number of top 2012 draft prospects, and are designed to illustrate how the proposed changes will affect games. Today I will look at the more interesteing of the proposed changes one by one and offer my opinion on whether they are benificial, detrimental or neutral to the game.
1. NO Icing the puck while a team is shorthanded
Finally! I have long been of the opinion that if it is illegal to ice the puck while even strength, why should it be allowed after your team has committed an infraction worthy of a penalty. This rule would increase scoring dramatically and make taking a penalty more prohibitive, in three ways – 1. before the penalty is taken players might be more reluctant to hook or trip and avoid taking the penalty; 2. increased offensive zone time for the team on the power play will generate more scoring chances; and 3. I am willing to bet that shorthanded goals will more than double based on the fact that if a player needs to carry it over the red line to dump it in even while on the PK, they will more often than not continue the rush into the offensive end. Also, this rule would result in skill players on the PK more often and more scoring chances both ways.
This rule is one that I have been waiting on for a long time and fully support.
2. Delayed penalty variation (offending team must exit zone in possession of puck to stop play)
This would also result in more scoring chances, since how often has a player barely touched the puck and the play blown dead. This would allow more opportunities to get the goalie out on a delayed call and get an extra attacker for an extended period of time.
I like this one as well, although you could be turning a 2 minute penalty into a 2 1/2 or 3 minute disadvantage.
3. Remove the Trapeziod behind the goal lines
This one is a no-brainer as the call is often never made if it is close anyways, and goalies making mistakes by playing the puck creates offense. This would also help defensemen out by allowing the goalie to play the puck and avoid the onrush of forwards coming at them from behind. This also allows those netminders who are adept at playing the puck the opportunity to use that skill more often and turn offense the other way.
Another good rule that I would like to see, the trapezoid only confuses people and is pointless.
4. After offside, faceoff goes back to offending team’s end
I don’t like this one. It seems over-penalizing to bring the faceoff all the way back if a player on the rush makes a move and puts his player offside. I think this one will result in fewer rushes and more dump-ins which will take away from the flow of the game. I like the “intentional” rule as it exists now, where if a player purposely goes offside or stays offside in order to get a whistle, is a fair enough discouragement not to go offside.
This one is a non-starter for me.
5. Shallow-back nets
This one increases the space behind the net while keeping the goal line in the same place.This is interesting and those opponents of the rule think that less depth in the net will increase the number of video reviews because the puck will be in the net for less time. I think that if you loosen the mesh, and have it hang down a little more than the tightly strung mesh now, it will be more apparent that the puck has gone in and make that point moot.
I like the idea of more room behind the net to make plays.
6. Face-off variations
There will be a number of “tinkerings” to the faceoff rule. These include making the centres become set on a whistle, the same linesman dropping the puck on all faceoffs, and a penalty line for centres committing an infracton. I don’t think adding more rules to faceoffs is a good idea. Fans and players alike are already frustrated about the length of time it takes to start play, and adding more restrictions will only serve to slow it down. If the linesmen stuck to the 5 second rule for droppong the puck, then there should be no problems.
I don’t like this one, because it will only serve to frustrate all involved and put more negative spotlight on one linesman.
7. Overtime Variations – 4 minutes 4-on-4 followed by 3 minutes of 3-on-3 & 5 shooters instead of 3 in shootouts.
This will result in more scoring opportunities in overtime, but will still require a number of shootouts. The 3-on-3 is not a situation that occurs often during an acutal game, but is a more preferable way of ending ties to the traditionalist than the skills competition that is a shootout. How many fewer shootouts will be required as a result of 3-on-3 would be tough to determine. The 5 shooter shootout would extend the lenght of shootouts and allow for more players to show their skill. If you are going to have a shootout, 5 shooters is better than 3 for me, but combined with and extended overtime might make games go even longer.
I like both ideas if they were implemented in a mutually exclusive manner, but not in conjunction with each other.
8. Changes to Icing Rules – no touch or hybrid
This is often a contentious issue, as races to the puck are so rarely won by the offensive team that it doesn’t seem to make much sense to have the races that end in such catastrophic injuries, either on purpose or purely accidental. The hybrid option would reduce some of the chases, but not all. Automatic icing would reduce almost all of the races, save the ones that occur on slow dumps where players from both sides have an opportunity to reach the puck before it crosses the goal line. The pressure will be on linesmen to make a decision sooner on whether or not a puck can be reached and wave it off sooner when that instance occurs.
I like the automatic icing option in order to decrease injuries on needless chases for the puck.
9. Change on the fly only (except goals and penalties)
This is very interesting and many “beer leagues” play with this rule already. I don’t know about implementing it at the NHL level. This could result in many longer shifts, and tired players. Tired players do make mistakes which can result in scoring chances, but can also result in more injuries. Tired players slow the pace also, and fans want to see players going full tilt all the time.
I wouldn’t like this one to be implemented, due to tired players and the increased risk of injury.
So there you have some of the major changes the NHL is looking at. Some may be implemented, others may not, but each one will have some impact on the way the game is played.
What do you think about the changes?
Thanks for reading and as always, comments are welcomed.
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