6 NHL Rule Changes We'd Like to See
With the NHL getting back to business as usual, the focus returns to the game on the ice and not the histrionics at the negotiating table.
After nearly four full months of being locked out, that's a relief for hockey fans.
However, the game on the ice is not perfect. There are rule changes that could be made to help the game improve.
In recent years, much of the discussion about the rules has involved making changes that will increase goal scoring and help make the game safer for players.
We agree with both of those premises.
Here's a look at six proposed rule changes for the NHL general managers to consider.
Hybrid Icing Rule
It's time to change the icing rules.
The NHL has been considering this for a while and there's no reason that the change shouldn't be instituted as soon as possible.
Instead of having both players race down the ice to see whether icing will be called, horizontal lines should be placed at the faceoff circles in either end of the ice. If the player from the defensive team wins the race to that spot, the whistle is blown for icing. If the player from the offensive team is leading the race, the play continues.
This will prevent many of the collisions and injuries that can take place if a player loses his edge or neither player lets up.
No Hard-Shell Pads
Hockey players need to wear pads to protect their bodies in this fast and violent game.
However, do they need to wear hard-shell pads, particularly on the upper body?
Hard-shell elbow and shoulder pads can inflict serious damage on opponents. If a forward delivers a check to an unsuspecting opponent, it is going to be painful. However, if it's from an elbow that has a hard plastic shell over it, it can cause serious damage.
There is no reason to wear that kind of padding.
Players need hard shin guards to block shots, but they are not needed for the upper body.
Get Rid of the Trapezoid
The NHL instituted the trapezoid rule to keep goalies from handling the puck.
The idea behind the rule was that, if the goalie could not venture into the corners behind the goal line, more offensive plays would be made.
The reality is that there are more collisions in the corners as forwards and defensemen race for the puck.
If goalies can reach the puck and make a play, they can pass the puck out of the zone and create offensive opportunities for their own team.
The restrictions on the goalies created by the trapezoid should be removed.
This is controversial, but if the goalie leaves his crease to play the puck, he should not be given any additional protection from the rules.
Goalies should have the right to go anywhere on their own half of the ice. However, if a goalie pursues the puck or has it on his stick, opponents should be allowed to check the goalie as they would any other player.
In the video above, Boston Bruins power forward Milan Lucic committed a penalty because he charged into Ryan Miller of the Buffalo Sabres. However, if he had just competed with Miller for the puck and made contact, that should not be a penalty.
The rules do not allow contact with the goalie and that needs to changed.
The goalie needs to be protected from charging or other dangerous plays, but he does not deserve extra protection.
Delay of Game
How many times do you see it? The defenseman has the puck on his stick, tries to clear it and fires it over the glass.
The referee calls delay of game and a power play is created.
This is way too severe a penalty for a player who makes a mistake. Instead of whistling the player off the ice for two minutes, treat it as icing and make the faceoff occur in the offending team's defensive zone.
Many people dislike the shootout because they think it is a carnival-like solution to deciding who wins and loses game.
Shootouts are often compared to ending a tied baseball game with a home run contest.
We're not here to argue the validity of that point. However, a three-round shootout is fluky.
We think the NHL should follow the example of the American Hockey League and go to a five-round shootout.
In three rounds, the better team may not win. A longer shootout gives the team with more skill a better chance to win.
It's a fairer way to do business.