Sunday, August 22, 2010

No-touch Icing, Pick Your Faceoff Opponent

Time for me to comment on a couple of these rule changes being discussed at the NHL Reserved Development camp. Brendan Shanahan and boys have been busy testing out some possible rule changes for the NHL. There are quite a few dealing with icing, offsides, face offs and more. Here's my thoughts on a couple of the potential rule modifications.

No-touch icing:

Amateur players know the drill - the play is dead as soon as the puck crosses the goal line. This is safer for players because it takes away high-speed chases into the end boards. However, the NHL uses touch icing in order to force the players to hustle until the end of the play. Some forwards take a lot of pride in beating defenseman to the puck. Of course, there have been some really scary plays and injuries due to this rule. And now there is a division of opinion among the rule makers in the NHL. The RD camp did some model-research in order to help decide whether to implement the no-touch rule in the NHL.

To be clear, this potential rule is not like the amateur no-touch. Officials will be allowed to make a judgement call. If the icing appears intentional, it's no-touch, no doubt. But if it's a missed pass, it's a race. Moreover, the defenseman has to make a play and cannot take advantage of the rule by letting pucks float into the corner. So, a lot of room for judgement on the official's side.

I am in support of this rule. I think it needs to be tried at least for a season. I don't think it will change the game too much. It might be a little more difficult for the officials, but in the end, I think it makes more sense. Yet, the conservative hockey fan in me still cringes at any rule change like this. I think if the league gives it a chance, fans might start to wonder how the game was played without no-touch.

The Face off Rule:

This rule deals with officials chasing guys from the face off dot in the offensive zone for cheating. The defensive center will be allowed to choose from any of the other skaters on the ice for a new opponent at the dot. So, most likely the center will choose an opposing defenseman to face.

I think this is ridiculous. Why put so much bullshit in the game? I do not want to see some kind of circus going on while the official is trying to drop the puck. If a guy cheats at draws (or even a winger cheats) just kick them out. I don't see why this rule is even necessary. Your center gets kicked out of the draw already, does there need to be a more severe punishment for this? No, absolutely not.

There are plenty other possible rule changes, equipment modifications and even rink/net dimensions being discussed. Most of it kind of scares me, but I think that's a normal response. I have to trust the men doing this research are acting in the best interest of the game. I know they want to make the play better for fans and players, but I personally care more about preserving the game and only making subtle, smart rule modifications.