The NHL has seen drastic change since the 2004-05 season was lost to a lockout. The game is now referred to as the “New NHL” which focuses more on offense due to the fact that the “casual” fan was bored by the lack of scoring in the NHL. The league changed the rules so that more penalties would be called thus bringing more powerplay goals to the game which would mean more goals all around, which it did serve it’s purpose.
The year after the lockout was the most inflated statistical year the NHL has ever seen. Guys who would normally chip in anywhere from 15-25 goals were looking like elite goal scorers racking up totals around 35-45, Brian Gionta and Scott Gomez were prime examples of this. That has since changed as players have adapted defensively to the new rules and the wild scoring was put to an end for the most part but scoring is still certainly higher than it used to be.
In the six years since the lockout there have been 49 teams that have averaged at least three goals per game. In the six years before the lockout there were only 27 teams that managed to pull this off, that’s almost double.
So even though scoring has gone up the NHL still wants to bump it up a little bit. Well here are four potential rule changes that will do that, but in my mind they will have a hand in destroying the integrity of the game and maybe make the diehard fans walk away from the game.
These rules courtesy of Puck Daddy
1. Icing While Shorthanded
This rule is a holdover from last season’s R&D camp, and was infamously demonized when proposed for the NCAA. As in every coach voted against it.That doesn’t mean it lacks merit; it just means it’s a radical change.
And it would be radical: Defensive players couldn’t simply smack the puck down the ice six or seven times and call it a kill. Some variations of this rule have penalty killers needing to gain possession and skate the puck out of the zone; others allow them to chip it out.
Having a shorthanded team called for icing, and then having their exhausted foursome stuck on the ice for a defensive zone draw, would seem to dramatically increase scoring chances for the power play. Or, if nothing else, this rule could end the monotonous 2 minutes of ice-and-chase that currently encompass the majority of NHL power plays.
This to me would be idiotic. You take away any teams ability to penalty kill. Think of a 5-on-3 penalty kill and they can’t flip the puck out of the zone due to the threat of an icing call. The team on the powerplay can just forcheck aggressively and end up causing a turnover that leads to a goal which is nice, but is it worth it to watch your penalty killers get manhandled because they can’t flip the puck out like they always have been able to? Granted watching a team flip the puck out of the zone to kill an opposing teams powerplay isn’t exactly exciting but it’s part of the game, and it’s a strategy.
Also when a home team is killing a penalty having them fire it down the ice for a clear while they get a line change gets the crowd excited so it takes away any chance for the killing team to gain any momentum, of course momentum works both ways.
2. Delay of Game on Goalies
You know how goaltenders often grab the puck around their crease to freeze it, or craftily bat the puck into the stands on the penalty kill to give their teams a break?
Camp Shanny will look into strict enforcement of “goaltenders covering puck outside crease,” which will help eliminate stoppages in play and effectively take away one weapon from the last line of defense. It’s not a power-play specific rule, but it’s one that could really affect a goalie’s options on the kill.
I agree that goalies shouldn’t be able to bat the puck out of play, that should be a penalty for a delay of game. The other part of this is really not needed. I don’t see anything wrong with it and to be honest it doesn’t come up that often in a game but if that becomes a penalty that only means that there will be more rules implemented in a couple years to handcuff the goalies even more. The goalie’s job is to stop the puck and the trapezoid behind the net already limits their ability to handle the puck, no need to make it any worse. When goalies start leaving their net and throwing checks so they can cover the puck when their team needs a stoppage, then we can talk about calling a delay of game penalty.
3. Changing the Delayed Penalty Rule
Before there’s a power play, there’s a penalty; and sometimes these penalties result in the offended team pulling its goalie and getting some 6-on-5 action before the whistle is blown.
Traditionally, play stops when the offending team gains possession of the puck, although the refs will bend that rule to where a “touch” counts as possession. But Camp Shanny will test a new rule in which the penalized team has to exit their defensive zone in possession of the puck if a penalty is committed while their opponents are on the attack.
Again, this would seem to punish teams for breaking the rules and reward their victims. Kind of a no-brainer, if juicing offense is the aim. Plus it could make for some pressure-packed moments and frantic battles for the puck in the offensive zone. Always a good thing.
This is the rule that I’m the least against but I’m still not excited about it. It would bring some tense moments to the game so I will be interested to see how this one works on the ice.
4. The ’2-Minute Major’
Welcome to the Atom Bomb.
This is truly the nuclear option for the NHL and its power plays, fundamentally changing minor penalties by having every penalty served in its entirety. Score in the first 15 seconds of a power play? Congrats, sirs; now you’ve got 1:45 to score a few more.
It’s the hockey equivalent of those air-blown money grabbing machines.
It’s also a throwback to when power plays were really dangerous: Back in the 1950s, when the penalties were served in full and the Montreal Canadiens were scoring so often with their Hall of Fame unit that goal judges would just keep the goal lamp lit for two minutes.
It could encourage more even-strength play … or it could mean a six-penalty period could yield only eight minutes of five-on-five (in theory). You run the risk of turning these games into power-play fests, which as Mirtle wrote made for garbage hockey back in 2005-06.
Of course, a well-executed power play can be as beautiful as a brilliant 2-on-1 breakaway. The catharsis of seeing the puck cross the line, the players celebrate and then hearing the roar of the crowd over arena rock is as palpable at 5-on-4 as it is at 5-on-5.
We’re always going to lobby for changes that increase offensive flow than simply put more pucks in the net, but there’s no denying that more scoring probably equals more attention from the disenfranchised basketball fans in the U.S. — hey, somebody’s going to see Michael Bay movies, right? Sports are always going to be about the numbers, from fantasy stats to records being threatened; inflated offensive figures on the power play can only mean more attention for the NHL’s star players.
Rather than turning the cages into soccer nets or playing 4-on-4 for 60 minutes, tweaking the power play — where goal-scoring is supposed to thrive anyway — could juice the numbers on the scoreboard without fundamentally changing the game. And if it means a player thinks twice about putting his team down a man, all the better.
This in my mind is the worst idea of the group. This may drive up the score but also in many ways you might have more blowouts early in games which means that they won’t be as entertaining from a fans standpoint. Last time I checked the salary cap was brought in to make the game more competitive, won’t a few goals in a span of two minutes take away some of the competitiveness?
It also goes back to momentum if you’re the home team and you take an early penalty, you can be down by two or three in no time and you won’t get the boost from the fans that you would normally get, now granted it works both ways, get early goals at home and you get the crowd into it but this is going to lead more toward lopsided games compared to close exciting games. The other bad thing I see coming out of this will be a lot more diving, if you think you can get your team two or three goals on one powerplay then guys will be flopping all over the ice.
I am a younger hockey fan (20) but I still remember how hockey was before the lockout and I loved it, and to be honest I miss it. Hockey after the lockout has catered to the casual fan and has kind of left the pre-lockout diehard fans in the dust. I know plenty of people that don’t like how the NHL is now and I can say that my interest has changed a bit even though I still live and breathe the sport. I just think that the NHL shouldn’t mess with it’s product so much. We aren’t talking about little changes here, these will drastically change the entire landscape of the game.
Next thing they will want to do is put soccer nets on the ice, make the goalie chug five beers, spin him around in a circle ten times, and then blindfold him just so the other team can get a goal. At some point it needs to stop, the game is exciting and in my opinion it is the best sport to go see live and it’s even the best to watch on tv.
It’s also surprising to see Brendan Shanahan leading the charge on these rule changes because he seems to be an old school hockey kind of guy. This might not all be Shanny’s doing. I think if he has his way none of these will go through. These also aren’t definite rule changes. The NHL’s annual Research and Development camp is next week and this is where they will test all of these rules to see how they would work in a real game situation.
What do you think fans? Do you want old school kind of hockey back, or do you like the direction the NHL is potentially going in?
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