NHL: Rule Changes the League Should Look Make

PJ Sapienza@@pjsapiContributor IIIJune 13, 2012

NHL: Rule Changes the League Should Look Make

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    Now that the NHL season has finished a busy offseason is ahead.  Teams are getting ready for the draft and the start of free agency.  The league and players are looking ahead to a new collective bargaining agreement.

    One issue that the league should look at is some rule changes to help improve the game.  They plan to meet later this summer to discuss some ideas.  Here is a list of changes that should be included in those talks.

Eliminate Offsides

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    Plain and simple, get rid of it.  Many fans and non fans of hockey complain about the lack of scoring.  Opening up the entire ice at all times would greatly increase the scoring opportunities.

    Basketball is much more popular than hockey and the fast break is one of the more exciting plays in that game.  Adding that element to hockey would be great for fans.

    Also, with the league pressing for more player safety, opening up the middle of the ice should make it safer for the players.  Currently the center of the ice tends to get clogged up.  Many players get inured with bone-jarring hits in that area.  Often the player is not looking or had just passed the puck in order to keep the team onsides.

    Without offsides the ice would open up.  Defenses would not be able to clog up the ice as much.  The chances of clean fast breaks or odd man rushes would greatly increase.  This means, at minimum, more scoring chances and likely more goals scored.

Let Goalies Play the Puck

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    Remember when the goalie could handle the puck anywhere?  It was always fun to see them skate too far out or really mess up handling the puck.

    Limiting where a player can handle the puck when every other player can handle it everywhere is crazy.  With the elimination of offsides it will have the goalie thinking twice before venturing too far away from the goal and if they do the chances of a spectacular play, for either side, are greatly improved.

Carryover Penalties

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    Officials have discussed this one already and look to come back to it in the future.  While in the TSN article, the rule is aimed more towards the playoffs, it should be used the entire season.

    The cheap shot or message sending type of hits that tend to occur late in a game, once the outcome is in hand, would have a carryover penalty.  Ideally this would help prevent players who are losing from going after another player. 

    If they did then the penalty would carry over to the next game.  Not all penalties should have this level of punishment.  A simple hooking penalty for example should not.  Any harsher penalty should be reviewed after the game to determine if it meets a “cheap shot” penalty. 

    The TSN article points to Shea Weber and the postgame face plant he put on Henrik Zetterberg.  Under such a rule, Weber would have started the next game in the penalty box.

    The only issue would be at what point in the game could penalties become a carryover?  Obviously any penalty that cannot be served during that game would be included.  Getting a two minute penalty with 30 seconds to go could be a carryover if it fails a review. 

    In order to prevent the cheap shots the time frame would need to be extended.  All penalties in the last five minutes would be reviewable for a possible carry over.  Remember the goal of this rule is to prevent the cheap shot or supposed “message sending” plays.  These plays have injured players.  If a longer penalty is a possibility than hopefully players will think twice.

Four-on-Four Overtime

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    Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland has already brought up the idea of three-on-three hockey for overtime.

    As discussed here his plan is to play four-on-four over the first five minutes of the playoffs, then switch to three-on-three if the score is still tied for another five minutes.  If after those ten minutes the score is still tied then they would go to a shootout.

    Instead of that, the overtime should remain four-on-four but for a full 10 minutes.  If the league wants to get away from shootouts then it should take away the automatic point for making it to overtime.  This would keep the pressure up and should keep teams attacking more without the safety net of one point in the standings.

    They could look into giving a point to each team for making it to the shootout but that is a small detail of the plan.  More overtime means more hockey and that is a good thing.

    The shootout is still good.  It is an exciting way to end a game but it does happen a little too often, which has made the overtime period five minutes of boredom.  Besides, if not for the shootout, we would not have such stellar moves as sen in the video above.

Allow Buzzer Beaters

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    While it does not happen often, it does happen and changing this rule could add another scoring element and increase the possibility of an exciting play.

    Currently when a period is over the whistle is dead where it lies.  Instead it should travel to the end of its path.  By that I mean if a player gets a shot off before the clock runs out then it gets to complete the shot. This means hitting an ending point.

    Much like in basketball, where a player can make that last second shot or in football where once the ball is snapped the play can be completed, hockey needs a similar rule.

    Since deflections are such a part of hockey that will need to be ironed out.  Ideally the puck is not dead until it either hits the boards, scores or a player has control of it.  This would mean a blue line shot as time expired could still bounce off a goalie or be redirected but a player could not reset or smack it in on a rebound.

     

    PJ Sapienza is a featured columnist covering the Detroit Red Wings as well as many other sports.

    You can follow him on Twitter.

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