NHL Proposed Rule Changes

In Mid-August the NHL held a camp for prospects where the league tried out lots of new rule adjustments.  Lots of hockey people have very strong opinions about the league messing with the rules, but I think there are some very legitimate ideas proposed at the camp which could benefit the game .

Here are some of the potential new rules I find particularly interesting:

1) Hybrid icing – this simply means it is up to the linseman’s discretion to determine who will reach the puck first when the player(s) reach the face-off dot.  This means if the defending player has the advantage, the play would be whistled dead – thus avoiding the potential for a dangerous end-board collision.  However, if the attacking player has the advantage, play is allowed to continue.  I’m in favor of this particular rule, as it would help avoid dangerous collisions at the end boards – something we saw too much of last season.  If we want to continue to enjoy watching these amazing players skate, we have to keep their safety in mind.  Someone getting hurt on a needless play isn’t worth it.

2) Modified faceoff markers – this modification adds an extra line into the faceoff dot markings in the end-zones (see image below).  When players enter for a faceoff, they square the feet up to the inner-most line (just like they do now).  If the official deems a center is not lined up properly, the center must move his feet back to the outer-most line – giving up precious leverage.  I like this rule, as it creates a greater disadvantage for the offending centerman.  It also helps keep the game moving by having to replace the center.

New Faceoff Markings

3) Line change area – instead of having a loose area where players can change, this rule forces players to be inside the (new) blue markings near the bench in order to change lines unpenalized (see image below).  In watching some of the scrimmage where this was implemented, it really seemed to clean the ice up during line changes.  No more big messes of players coming on and off during changes.  This opens more space up on the ice, and also makes it a distinct rule – taking some of the discretion and grey-area away from the previous rule.

New Line Change Crease

4) Decrease the dept of the net by 4″ – simply put, this creates more space and doesn’t have any major impact on the flow or ruling of the game.  I think it’s a no-brainer – open the ice up, and give the players more room to create plays.

5) Red mesh in the nets – I’m a bit mixed on this particular modification.  I like the fact it makes the netting (target) easier to spot quickly, and (in theory) should support more goal scoring, but I fear goalies will quickly counter-act this change by incorporating red into their pad design, thus negating any sort of benefit the rule would create.

There were lots of other rules they tried out – many of which I didn’t care for and some I was indifferent toward.  Personally, I think this sort of exploration into our game is a very healthy thing, and should be encouraged moving forward.  Seldom am I in favor of major changes to the game, but minor tweaks can make the game more exciting (entertaining) and reward skilled players.  Over the past few years, I think the NHL has done a tremendous job of modifying the rules to let their stars shine (one notable exception in my book is the trapezoid – don’t punish goalies who are good at handling the puck).  While I understand there is a large faction of “traditionalists” who don’t want to see the game changed at all, there needs to be – and should be – instances where some of hockey’s greatest minds are able to examine the game for the greater good.

2 Replies to “NHL Proposed Rule Changes”

  1. Kevin, I agree with most of what you had to say on this one. My big concern is with the hybrid icing, I feel it give an advantage to the defending player and does not really protect any offensive players from an end board collision.

    If the end board collision injury possiblities is the main concern the only way to actually prevent that would be to do away with touch icing all together. (which i am not in favor of at all, it really keeps the game moving)

  2. Hi Jhroan,

    I do agree with you in that the only way to fully eliminate the injury potential is to do away with it (instant whistle). I think hybrid icing is a good *first step* in the right direction. It will eliminate a lot of the injury potential situations – but not all. The ones that really need to go are the ones where the defending player clearly has the advantage, and the forechecking player knows he will not get the puck, but still takes a run at the defender.

    I do however, think a good clean race for the puck can be a healthy aspect of the game – albeit with some risk. I’d hate to see immediate icing because I don’t think the offensive team should be penalized if they miss a pass, but still have a clear offensive advantage.

    It will definitely be interesting to see how this all plays out. I’m hoping the league continues its progress in evaluating rules and trying new things out gradually through camps like the one in Toronto.

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