NHL Rule Changes

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The NHL has announced new rule changes for the 2014-2015 season.

To summarize:

-The restrictive trapezoid, where goalies can play the puck, will be expanded by two feet.

-The umbrella of Game Misconduct penalties is being expanded.  In addition to checking-from-behind and boarding such infractions as: elbowing, head-butting, butt-ending, interference, and kneeing will result in Game Misconducts.  Two ejections due to any of these infractions results in an additional one game suspension.  Strange, this doesn’t seem like much of a change.

October11, 2013; Raleigh, NC, USA; Los Angeles Kings goalie Jonathan Quick (32) stops Carolina Hurricanes right wing Alexander Semin (28) on a shootout attempt at PNC Center. The Kings defeated the Hurricanes 2-1 in a shootout. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

-No spin-moves on penalty shots, or shootouts.

-Video review pertaining to goals will be expanded to help referee’s on the ice.  Especially in the area of goals where the official blows the whistle, or intends to blow the whistle when losing sight of the puck.

-Anytime a defending player dives to poke-check the puck, and knocks his opponent off his feet is a two minute minor penalty.  Even if the defending player touches the puck before tripping his opponent.  If the defender touches the puck first, on a play like a breakaway that would have previously resulted in a penalty shot, a penalty shot is not awarded but a two minute penalty will be assessed.

-Players, and coaches of players, who repeatedly are penalized for diving will be fined.  Fines are based on a graded scale.

-Stricter enforcement on face-offs after an icing.  This is for the team that iced the puck.  The centermen will be warned but must remain in the face-off circle.  After the warning a two minute penalty will be assessed.  This is to stop the, “I’ll get kicked out of the face-off and slowly switch with my teammate to help us catch our breath,” foolishness.

-Prior to the Overtime period teams will switch ends, and coaches are no longer required to submit the teams first three shooters before the shootout.

-Pucks that go out of bounds and cause a stoppage of play, when last touched by the offensive team, will result in face-offs remaining in the attacking zone.  This includes: shots that break the glass, shots that hit the post or net and deflect out of play, shots that go off the boards or glass and out of play, shots that hit a teammate and go out of play, and shots that result in the puck landing on the top or back of the net when play stops.  Basically it’s now like lacrosse.  Any time an attacking team takes a shot and the result is a stoppage in play, the ensuing face-off will remain inside the zone.  This is to create more offensive opportunities in the game.  Because there haven’t been enough rule changes to create more offense.

“No matter how many rules change, there will be teams out there like the New Jersey Devils that will figure out a way to limit scoring.”

-The hash-marks on the end-zone circles will be moved from three feet, to five feet-seven inches apart.  Because . . . why not.  In all likelihood it’s to give offensive players lining up more room off the draw.  Face-offs won by attacking teams will give point shooters increased space in shooting lanes to shoot the puck and get it on net.  Again, it’s to help create more offense.

It might be negligible, and result in a kicking-of-the-self-motion, but why doesn’t the NHL remove goaltenders, or increase the size of the net by nine feet?

In conclusion, most of the changes or additions are minor, though it’s sad to hear there will be no more Spin-O-Rama moves allowed in shootouts.  So much for the entertainment.

It’s become quite a trend, that no matter how good the game is, no matter how much popularity it gains, no matter the increase in ticket sales or television revenues, the game simply has to be amended.  The game must be tinkered with.  Can’t NHL executives leave hockey alone?  Hockey’s the best sport in the world.  It was before a decade of rules and changes.

Jun 4, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; NHL commissioner Gary Bettman at a press conference before game one of the 2014 Stanley Cup Final between the New York Rangers and the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Here’s a stark flash warning to NHL executives, some of whom may be scoring-style savvy basketball fans – Gary Bettman (cough).  No matter how many rules you change or how much you try to amend the game, there will be teams out there like the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Los Angeles Kings, or the New Jersey Devils that will figure out a way to play great defense and limit the scoring.

It’s part of how these teams implement strategy, and play the game of hockey.  The Devils especially, will do their homework and stay up for weeks on end watching film and eating pizza until they’ve figured out a way to keep an opposing team from scoring more than three goals.

To paraphrase hockey legend Phil Esposito, from his SiriusXM radio show The Power Play, “They should implement a rule [in the NHL], where you can’t add or change the rules for four or five years.”