NHL's Return to Integrity: Stop Skate-By Receiving Lines, Delay-of-Game Pleading
I'd like to propose a couple of rule changes to the NHL. They won't necessarily improve on the quality of play, nor will they reduce injury. They will, however, return integrity to the game, at a time when it struggles with its identity and the NHL ponders whether it should be a more global (European) league.
Firstly, a modification to the recently introduced rule whereby a player receives a delay-of-game penalty upon shooting the puck over the glass from their defensive zone.
When such an incident occurs, regardless of intent, they are handed a two-minute minor. Perhaps in the future, referees will be allowed to use judgement and base their call on intent, but in the meantime, it's an automatic call, and every other play on the ice immediately reacts accordingly when it happens.
The proposed modification is based on exactly those reactions.
When the puck exits, any opposing team player who raises their hands to indicate "out of bounds," or anyone caught yelling "Ay, oh, ay, ay, oh, oh...", or similar, or skating to the nearest referee pointing at the puck's trajectory, or pleading and indicating where it deflected off a stick or edge of the glass—such a player will also receive a two-minute unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
The league recently cut out soccer-esque diving by imposing an unsportsmanlike penalty, let it now do the same again before gameplay resembles soccer, with its defenders, who upon sensing an offside, just stop playing and throw their hands up into the air looking for non-athletic mercy.
Secondly, the skate-by greeting line that forms at the bench after every goal must go. It has become automatic for the player who scored to lead a procession by the bench, receiving glove-pumps from each teammate. I don't recall this in the good ol' days of the NHL. European influence?
They do so after great goals scored off of a blistering slapshot, or after dekeing a defenceman out of his shorts and then roofing the puck to knock the water bottle.
They also do so after having a puck bounce in off their skate or derriere, and even after getting credit for a goal knocked in by the opponent while they are half way back to the bench at shift's end.
They do so with emotion on their faces, or sometimes with a blank look, as if it were a ritual forced upon them. Many veterans do so with a look of embarrassment and ridicule, but they still ride the line, perhaps because the new generation expects it from them.
Let's allow them to celebrate as they see fit, and not force any receiving lines or gifts and confetti upon anyone. A bench minor for inappropriate celebration might fit when the choreography gets too heavy.
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