Rule Changes the NHL Should Stop Ignoring

During the 2014 Stanley Cup Final the NHL Competition Committee met to discuss future rule changes in the game. The committee is comprised of league officials representing the NHL and current players representing the NHLPA. This small group of people is meant to represent the interests of both parties but also outside parties such as sponsors. Unfortunately, one of the most important parties, the fans, are often ignored as they do not have a voice during the actual deliberations

Obviously fans should not make decisions on rule changes or any type of decision other than trivial things such as All-Star voting, but it seems those that run the league blatantly ignore all outside ideas. The NHL Competition Committee, GMs and other league officials limit themselves by only listening to their own ideas instead of thinking outside the box, or in this case hearing what the fans have to say. This eventually leads to rule changes that frustrate fans, players, coaches, media and even the NHL executives themselves. Let us review some proposed rule changes by the committee and other options that they could take if they were to think outside the box.

Overtime

When the shootout was added in 2006 it brought new excitement to the game. Now the NHL wishes to lower the amount of games that end in shootouts due to the growing unpopularity of it. The committee has proposed that teams switch ends during the 5 minute period so they have the long change. They hope this leads to more games ending before the shootout. The NHL is not taking a true step forward concerning overtime and believes hopeful thinking will lead to the wanted result. Any two variations of the following rules would guarantee less shootouts; a 10 minute overtime period, switching ends so teams have the long change, playing 3v3 hockey for some duration of the overtime. These changes are more likely to lead to the wanted result while the NHLs proposal is just hopeful thinking and may not change a thing.

Trapezoid

The trapezoid was added in the 2006 season and has been a point of contention ever since. The NHL proposed that the trapezoid be extended by two feet on either side so that goaltenders have more room to play the puck and possibly keep defensemen out of harm’s way. Again, the NHL is not taking a true step forward and simply using hopeful thinking. Completely eliminating the trapezoid will allow goaltenders to freely play the puck and it will keep defensemen out of harm’s way even more than they would be under the NHLs proposition.

Puck Over Glass Rule

Another rule that was added after the 2005 lockout was the puck over glass rule. The reason this rule was brought in was to increase power plays and thus increase scoring. Over the years, scoring and power plays have decreased to the levels of the dead puck era. This means that this rule is no longer the answer and just adds frustration to the game. First of all there are a lot of exceptions to the rule itself that over time we have just accepted. If the puck goes onto the bench, touches another player’s stick or touches the glass first then it is not a penalty. When players put the puck over the glass while in the defensive zone it is always accidental and it results in a penalty. These types of penalties should not determine the results of games, especially when games are so closely contested throughout the entire year. Instead remove it as a penalty and treat it the same as icing by forcing the team who put the puck out of play to take a defensive zone faceoff without being able to make a line change. The NHL should simply look back to what it did to increase scoring and power plays in 2006. By cracking down on obstruction the league increased scoring to it’s highest since 1996 and power plays to it’s highest since 1993.

Intent To Blow Rule

Yet another rule brought in after the 2005 lockout that has been subject to much scrutiny over the years. The reason why this rule is so mind-blowingly awful is because it is immeasurable. What is meant by this is that no one knows the exact moment when the referee “intends” to blow the whistle making it an immeasurable rule.  When the whistle is actually blown it can me measured in relation to the replay making is measurable.

To demonstrate this find a friend and conduct the following experiment. Stand across from each other with one of you holding a puck. Whoever is not holding the puck needs to try and guess the exact instant when you “intent” to drop the puck.  To demonstrate this even further, record this experiment and ask the person who dropped the puck to point out the exact time on the recording when he intended to drop the puck. If you try this you will find that it is not possible, even for the person who dropped the puck to point out when he intended to do so on a recording because there is nothing to go off of.

This is why the intent to blow rule is immeasurable and robs teams of good goals. If the league were to go by the sound of the whistle it would take away the judgement calls that the referee has to make in that situation. It is true that in some situations a referee will be slow to blow their whistle but that is better than making a poor judgment call based on “intent.”

Here are two examples of the Intent to Blow Rule botching good goals.

Coach’s Challenge

Along with video review the NHL has started to get serious about instituting a coach’s challenge. So far no consensus has been reached on what would be permitted but options range from calls on the ice such as offsides and penalties. Another factor is whether or not a challenge should cost the coach his timeout. The coach’s challenge and expanding video review will work but the NHL needs to decide on one as doing both together seems pointless. If video review covers goals and the coach’s challenge covers controversial on ice plays then everything is covered. They do not need both to cover goals and plays on the ice.

Expanding Video Review

The NHL has not reached a true platform on where they stand regarding expanding video review but they have suggested that on ice calls such as offsides and penalties be reviewable. The league should simply expand video review to overrule any goal decisions so that incidents such as Niklas Kronwall’s goal off the netting are avoided. This would make “non-reviewable goals” no longer an excuse. Also by not expanding video review to controversial on ice plays it will allow the coach’s challenge to have an experimental phase. This would be the safer path for the NHL to take rather than giving both the coach’s challenge and video review too much power right away.

Other Issues


The NHL Competition Committee brought up other ideas such as fining or suspending players who embellish while also possibly suspending coaches and teams also. They discussed expanding the faceoff hash marks from 3.5 feet to the IIHF regulation of 5 feet. This could lead to more offense on faceoffs and less scrums. They also proposed that teams face a harsher punishment for icing the puck. Teams who ice the puck may only use one player to take the ensuing faceoff which would eliminate the tactic of delaying for time by purposefully being kicked from the draw.

The NHL will always be making adjustments to better fit today’s game but they need to think outside the box in order to avoid scrutiny. The league is making more money than ever and the reason is the fans. Listening to their ideas would not be a bad thing.

Andrew Wilson
Andrew graduated from the University of Nevada with a Bachelor's Degree in Community Health Sciences. He played soccer while in college but always had a passion for hockey despite growing up in Nevada. You can find his own personal blog at http://thehockeyrant1.wordpress.com/ or follow him on Twitter: @TheHockeyRant
Andrew Wilson
This is how I feel about any and all political/ social issues. #WhyDoYouCare http://t.co/chqF4ZGjzp - 2 days ago
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4 Comments

  1. How about playing 4 on 4 after fights? Or serving all of 2 minute penalty?
    The first worked until the 80’s Edmonton team and second was the rule in the 60s. Changed because too much scoring

    What do you think?

    • That’s what I am talking about, thinking outside the box! Personally I miss the pre-2005 lockout days when teams were forced to play 4v3 or even 3v3 if multiple penalties were called. If you look at the 1980’s era as you suggested, it had the highest averages of powerplay goals and percentage.

      http://www.hockey-reference.com/leagues/stats.html#stats::none

      Yet the NHL can’t figure out how to increase scoring when they could simply just go back to some of the old rules that you are suggesting that led to such high scoring.

  2. You forgot one. Goalie interference. So many missed calls in this area. A forward rushes the goalie and bowls him over and the defense is penalized? A defenseman shoves a forward in to the goalie and the goal is disallowed? Yes, there is far too much contact on the goalies, some initiated by the offense, some by the defense. There has to be a happy medium between guys standing in the crease and forcing the defense to knock them out of the goalie’s view and a forward interfering with a goalie’s ability to stop a puck.

    • I left out goalie interference as it has not been a point of contention until this years playoffs while every other issue has been around for at least a few years.

      But you have a point. From the first round onward goalies have been crowded and hit much more than usual and after the goal by Dwight King on Henrik Lundqvist it is quite clear that the NHL no longer knows what is and is not goalie interference. They don’t need to change the rule but simply come out and clearly explain what is and is not goalie interference coupled with a rewriting of the rule so it is more easily understood.

      Because right now I can not honestly say that I know what is and is not goaltender interference anymore.

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