One Puck Short On The NHL Rule Changes
The NHL announced a number of minor changes to the rules for the 2014/15 season – some are welcome, some less so.
In at least one case, the changes the league have made seem flat out ridiculous. Here I look at some the proposed changes, and their impact on the game – but a full list of the changes can be found here
Rule 1.8 – Rink – Goalkeeper’s Restricted Area
“The trapezoid will be expanded by two feet from the goal post on both sides of the net.”
It’s more than a little amusing this change comes just as Martin Brodeur is coming to the end of his career. But the big question is why not just remove it entirely? Even when Brodeur, and other strong puck handlers like Marty Turco, were around it smacked of a rule designed to limit a tiny number of teams.
Rule 24 – Penalty Shot
“The ‘Spin-O-Rama’ move, as described in Section 24.2 of the 2013-14 NHL Rule Book, will no longer be permitted either in Penalty Shot situations or in the Shootout.”
The shoot out is one of the most divisive subjects in the NHL. But if the league is insistent on keeping what is essentially a glorified skills contest, why not at least let the players be as creative as possible?
It just seems like another example of the league trying to eliminate ‘fun’ from the game doesn’t it? Even without the hyperbole, this seems like an exercise in limiting those players who can genuinely lift fans from their seat. Why on Earth would you want to do that?!
Rule 38 – Video Goal Judge
“Video review will be expanded in the following areas:
* Rule 38.4 (viii) has been modified to allow broader discretion to Hockey Operations to assist the referees in determining the legitimacy of all potential goals (e.g., to ensure they are “good hockey goals”). The revised Rule will allow Hockey Operations to correct a broader array of situations where video review clearly establishes that a “goal” or “no goal” call on the ice has been made in error. The new expanded rule will also allow Hockey Operations to provide guidance to referees on goal and potential goal plays where the referee has blown his whistle (or intended to blow his whistle) after having lost sight of the puck.
* In reviewing “Kicked in Goals,” Hockey Operations will require more demonstrable video evidence of a “distinct kicking motion” in order to overrule a “goal” call on the ice, or to uphold a “no goal” call on the ice.”
Hurrah! If you are opposed to this then you are wrong.
If the NHL is going to use goal cams, video reviews and so forth then use them to the best of your ability. Officiating in any sport is a tough job, so giving the referees all the support available cannot possible be a bad idea.
Rule 57 – Tripping
“The rule relating to “Tripping” will be revised to specifically provide that a two minute minor penalty will be assessed when a defending player “dives” and trips an attacking player with his body/arm/shoulder, regardless of whether the defending player is able to make initial contact with the puck.
But, in situations where a penalty shot might otherwise be appropriate, if the defending player “dives” and touches the puck first (before the trip), no penalty shot will be awarded. (In such cases, the resulting penalty will be limited to a two-minute minor penalty for tripping.)”
Personally, I don’t like this change. There are few more exciting plays than a defenceman making a diving poke check to prevent a breakaway, and whilst you might still call it a ‘great play’ and perhaps a ‘good penalty to take’ it feels like it is again penalizing something most fans love to see.
It may lead to a small handful of extra powerplay opportunities, but I am not convinced that is sufficient grounds to change things.
Equally, a ‘grey area’ has been created around the award of a penalty shot – one can only imagine the amount of crossed arms above heads in the crowd this season…
Rule 64 – Diving / Embellishment
“The supplementary discipline penalties associated with Rule 64.3 (Diving/Embellishment) will be revised to bring attention to and more seriously penalize players (and teams) who repeatedly dive and embellish in an attempt to draw penalties. Fines will be assessed to players and head coaches on a graduated scale outlined below.”
Incorporating both player and Head Coach fines in to this rule makes the move all the more interesting. Whilst a fine between $2k and $5k is a small amount for even a league minimum player, it might make coaches think a little more if they are going to be hit in the pocket as well.
Even for most coaches it is not a huge amount of money these days, with a maximum fine of $5k, but I wonder how quickly some players might be shunted down the line up, or to the minors, if they start costing the boss money.
Rule 76 – Face-offs
“To curb delay tactics on face-offs after icing infractions, in situations where the defending team is guilty of a face-off violation, following an icing, the defending player who is initially lined up for the face-off will be given a warning, but will be required to remain in the circle to take the face-off. A second face-off violation by the defending team in such situation will result in a two minute minor bench penalty.”
This seems a little OTT. Whilst purposefully getting ones self thrown out of the face-off following an icing call is an age old tactic for many players to ‘catch a breather’, these alterations are both unnecessary and over zealous. What does it achieve exactly?
And one final note, despite some adjustments to rule 85 (puck out of bounds), the fact the rule remains at all is stupid.