ECHL rule changes and realignment were announced August 4 following a meeting of the ECHL’s Board of Governors.
This coming season’s only rule change is the league adopting the AHL’s new icing rule, which prevents coaches from calling a timeout following an icing violation. The change at the AHL level was largely seen as a testing ground for a future NHL rule change.
Perhaps more notable than the rule change implemented, is the rule change the league opted not to implement. The ECHL will not adopt the new fighting rule that will go into place for the AHL this coming season.
The new AHL rules will assess any player(s) entering a fight at or immediately following a faceoff a game misconduct. Additionally, any player who hits their 10th fight of the season will automatically be assessed a one-game suspension. Each fight after that, up to 13 total fights, will also include a one-game suspension.
When a player hits their 14th fight of the season they will be assessed a two-game suspension. For each subsequent fight, the player will also receive a two-game suspension. However, any fight in which the opposing player is assessed an instigator penalty will not count toward that total.
The league also announced realignment. New division alignments will look like this:
Adirondack Thunder, Brampton Beast, Elmira Jackals, Manchester Monarchs, Reading Royals, Wheeling Nailers
Atlanta Gladiators, Cincinnati Cyclones, Florida Everblades, Greenville Swamp Rabbits, Norfolk Admirals, Orlando Solar Bears, South Carolina Stingrays
Fort Wayne Komets, Indy Fuel, Kalamazoo Wings, Quad City Mallards, Toledo Walleye, Tulsa Oilers, Wichita Thunder
Alaska Aces, Allen Americans, Colorado Eagles, Idaho Steelheads, Missouri Mavericks, Rapid City Rush, Utah Grizzlies
Accompanying the realignment is a change in playoff format. The first two rounds of the postseason will be entirely played within the division, bringing more rivalries into the playoffs.
The division champion will play the fourth place team, and the second and third place teams will face each other. The winner of those rounds will then play before the postseason moves on to the Conference Championship, and then the Kelly Cup Championship.
The 2016-17 ECHL season will begin on October 14 with eight contests.
Dustin Nelson is the News Editor for The Hockey Writers. He’s a contributor to Hockey Prospectus, Hockey Wilderness, and writes a column for Rotowire. He’s also written for Gone Puck Wild, Wild Xtra, InDigest, Electric Literature, The Rumpus, Tiny Mix Tapes, Prefix Magazine & other publications. Have a tip? Email him at dlukenelson[at]gmail[dot]com.