The American Hockey League (AHL) Board of Governors announced a series of rule changes for the 2015-16 season on Friday that include a significant schedule change, the implementation of a coach’s video review challenge and adjustments to faceoffs and overtime for the second seasons in a row.
One of the stranger rule changes is to the schedule. the season will last 76 games for all teams except for the league’s five new teams — Bakersfield Condors, Ontario Reign, San Diego Gulls, San Jose Barracuda and Stockton Heat — who will played 68 games each.
As a result of that, the playoff race will not be simply point-based, but point percentage based. The playoffs will also undergo a change, moving toward a divisional format. Here’s that complete change:
Teams will receive two points for a win and one point for an overtime or shootout loss. The top four teams in each division ranked by points percentage (points earned divided by points available) will qualify for the 2016 Calder Cup Playoffs, with one exception in each conference: if the fifth-place team in the Atlantic or Central Division finishes with a better points percentage than the fourth-place team in the North or Pacific Division, it would cross over and compete in the other division’s bracket.
And the playoff adjustment
The 2016 Calder Cup Playoffs will feature a divisional playoff format, leading to conference finals and ultimately the Calder Cup Finals.
The league will implement strictly 3-on-3 overtime that reflects what the NHL Board of Governors has adopted for the 2015-16 NHL season. That will replace the successful 4-on-4, 3-on-3 hybrid format the AHL used last season.
The league will also adopt changes to video review — the implementation of a coach’s challenge — and faceoffs, which you can see below.
Rule 79 (“Video Review”)
• A team may use a “coach’s challenge” to initiate an official video review; only those situations which are subject to review by rule may be challenged.
• A team may only request a coach’s challenge if it has its timeout available, and the coach’s challenge must be effectively initiated prior to the resumption of play.
• If the coach’s challenge does not result in the original call on the ice being overturned, the team exercising such challenge will be charged with a timeout.
Rule 76.4 (“Face-offs”)
• For all face-offs (excluding center ice), the defending player shall place his stick on the ice first; for face-offs at center ice, the visiting player shall place his stick on the ice first.
Dustin Nelson writes about news and the Minnesota Wild for The Hockey Writers.