As we mentioned previously on the blog, on August 17 and 18 the NHL ran a research and development camp in which they tested a number of new rules and rule changes. The league recently released more information about the specifics of what they were doing, which I thought might be of interest.
Will any of these changes actually become the law of the land? The NHL has not released anything official about that yet.
Proposals, Descriptions, and Rationale:
"No Touch" Icing - For the purpose of this rule proposal, "icing the puck" is completed
the instant the puck has crossed the goal line. Reasoning? To eliminate potential dangerous collisions.
No Change after Off-Side - A team that has been ruled off-side, shall not be permitted to make
any player substitutions prior to the ensuing face-off. Reasoning? The inability to make any player substitutions will not only keep "tired" players on the ice but will also keep coaches from getting desired match ups. It is believed this combination will potentially lead to more offense.
Face-Off Variation (Penalty Line for centerman after violation) - If a player is deemed to have committed a face-off violation, he will be required to move back and keep his skates behind a "penalty line" (1' foot further back) which will cause a loss of leverage and therefore loss of strength for the ensuing face-off. Reasoning? This is one of three "face-off variations" we will be testing in an effort to improve the fairness and integrity of the face-off.
All Face-Offs will take place in a face-off circle only - Face-offs will not take place on a neutral zone dot, all face-offs will only be conducted in a face-off circle. Reasoning? This is an additional effort to improve the integrity of the face-off.
Same Linesman drops puck for all Face-Offs - One designated linesman will drop puck for every face-off, except the start of periods and after goals. Reasoning? This is an effort to bring consistency to the face-off.
No Icing Permitted while Short-Handed - Teams will be whistled for icing and therefore not permitted to make player substitutions, even while short-handed. Reasoning? Why do we reward a team for breaking one rule by allowing them to temporarily break another?
Verification Line - The verification line is a yellow line parallel to the goal line, set back slightly more than 3" inches (size of the puck) from the goal line. Reasoning? The verification line will aide the off ice officials during goal reviews when trying to determine if the puck has crossed the goal line. In the event there is something (water bottle, glove, pad, etc) blocking the view of the goal line, this line could be used to "verify" that the puck has completely crossed the goal line. (The line is slightly further back than the size of the puck, therefore if the puck is in contact with it, a goal would be awarded)
Overtime (Four minutes of 4-on-4, followed by three minutes of 3-on-3) - The length of the overtime period will be increased to seven total minutes. The segments will start with 4-on-4 play for four minutes and go down to 3-on-3 for three minutes. Reasoning? It is believed that the extra ice created by 3-on-3 will lead to more scoring chances and overtime goals.
Shootout (Five Man Shootout) - Five Players from each team shall participate in the shootout and they shall proceed in such order as the coach selects. After each team has taken five shots, if the score remains tied, the shootout will proceed to a "sudden death" format. No player may shoot twice until everyone who is eligible has shot. Reasoning? This is one of three shootout formats that will be tested to further explore the pros and cons of all the different variations.
Nets (Shallow back) - The shallow net features a 40" inch deep frame compared to the 44" inch frame that is currently used. Reasoning? The shallow net provides more ice behind the net. It also improves passing angles and makes it easier for wrap around attempts.
After Off-side, face-off goes back to offending team's end - A team that has been ruled off-side, shall have face-off back in their own end. Reasoning? The face-off coming back into their own end will potentially lead to more goal scoring.
Face-Off Variation (Both centermen must come set on whistle) - Puck is placed on the dot, the linesman will blow his whistle at which point both centermen must come set. The puck is then picked up and dropped. Any movement by either centerman would be a violation. Reasoning? This is another "face-off variations" tested in an effort to improve the fairness and integrity of the face-off.
Delayed Penalty Rule - A team who has committed an infraction of the rules but does not have possession of the puck, needs to not only gain possession of the puck but also get the puck out of their zone before the referee blows his whistle to stop play and impose the penalty on the offending player. Reasoning? The extra time it will take a team to clear their zone, will be more time the non offending team will have with an extra attacker which will provide more offense.
Line Changes only permitted on the Fly - No line changes to be made after the whistle except after goals and changes in man power. Reasoning? Limit coaching, speed up game.
Strict Enforcement of Goalies covering puck outside crease. - Rule 63.2 Goalies not permitted to cover puck unless they have skate contact with the crease. Reasoning? Limits whistles, speed up game.
Remove Trapezoid - Allow goalies to retrieve pucks anywhere on ice. Reasoning? This is an effort to aide defensemen on puck retrievals.
Allow Hand Passes in all Zones - Allow hand passes in the offensive and neutral zones as we do in the defensive zone. Reasoning? Limit whistles, keeps rule consistent all over ice.
Overtime (Switch Ends) - Same overtime format as currently used in NHL, with the added wrinkle of switching ends, therefore creating a long change. Over the past 11 seasons 37% of all goals in regulation were scored in the 2nd period compared to 30% in the 1st period and 33% in the 3rd period. Reasoning? Is the long change a major reason for the increased scoring in the 2nd period?
Shootout (Five man shootout with ability to have players repeat if tied after five shooters) - Five Players from each team shall participate in the Shootout and they shall proceed in such order as the coach selects. After each team has taken five shots, if the score remains tied, the shootout will proceed to a "sudden death" format. Players may shoot as often as coach desires in sudden death round. Reasoning? This is one of three shootout formats that will be tested to further explore the pros and cons of all the different variations.
"Hybrid" Icing A "hybrid" of no touch icing and touch icing. - During a potential icing, the linesman, by the time the first man reaches the face-off dot, will determine which player would reach the puck first. If it is determined to be the attacking player, icing is waved off. If it is the defending player, icing is blown immediately. (Tie goes to the defender) It enables on-ice officials to whistle the play dead avoiding a dangerous collision at the end boards. Reasoning? The hybrid icing keeps the excitement and hustle of touch icing while eliminating some of the potential dangerous collisions with the end boards.
No Change after off-side & face-off goes back to offending team's end. - A team that has been ruled off-side, shall not be permitted to make any player substitutions prior to the ensuing face-off which will now be in back their own end. Reasoning? The inability to make any situations, keeping tired players on the ice, in addition to the face-off coming back into their own end will potentially lead to more goal scoring.
Face-off Variation (If a centerman is chased due to his team encroaching, his replacement may not be the player guilty of encroaching) - ANY player guilty of a face-off violation is not allowed to take the ensuing face-off. Reasoning? This is another "face-off variations" we will be testing in an effort to improve the fairness and integrity of the face-off.
All Penalties to be served in their entirety - No relief for penalized teams after yielding a short-handed goal or
goal during delayed calling of a penalty. Reasoning? Increase goal scoring and will further deter breaking the rules.
Bear Hug Rule - Players will be permitted to wrap their opponent up when taking him into the boards without being called for a holding penalty. Reasoning? This is an effort to limit dangerous hits along the wall while allowing body contact and the ability to play the man.
What do you think? Any wrinkles you especially like or don't like?