Tuesday, June 07, 2005


Drastic Changes in Store for Czech Hockey?

While the NHL is working on rule changes that would make the game more wide open and perhaps more 'European', it appears the Czech Extraleague is working on going in the opposite direction.

Czech Federation and Team executives met in the beer town of Ceske Budejovice to discuss the future of the league and propose some rule changes - Probably after about 100 bottles of Budvar.

As per this Eurohockey.net report, the rumoured changes would drastically change Czech hockey far more than the time Jaromir Jagr cut his long hair.

1. Reinstate touch icing. The Czech Extraleague has not had touch icing since 1990, and it is common for Europeans leagues to use the IIHF's 'no-touch' rule.

2. Reinstate the Red Line for offsides. This is the *BIG* one, and would drastically shift Czech hockey from the European game that we know and love into an North American-style clone.

These proposed changes are very much under wraps within the Federation, and already people are starting to wonder 'Why??'

Touch Icing - As Don Cherry, Pat Peake, Al MacInnis, and countless others can tell you, touch icing leads to many needless injuries for the small chance the the 'shooting' team may recover the puck.

As the article above describes, Ludek Cajka of HC Zlin died shortly after one of these failed puck pursuits. The stadium in Zlin is named after Cajka, and this incident finally led the Czechs to adopt the 'no-touch' rule. Why would they feel the need to increase injuries?

Red Line Rule - This is even more of a head-scratcher. Why would the Czechs want to adopt a style out of line with their European counterparts? Imagine the difficulty that Czech Leaguers will have when they have to switch systems to play in IIHF tournaments? The Czech game is very much based on finesse and such a change would definitely take some of the pure skill out of the Czech game.

There have been no reasons given as to why the Czech Federation and the clubs would even consider these rules changes. I don't recall any fans, players, or even coaches clamouring for changes to make the Czech game mirror the NHL's style. Is the Czech Extraleague trying to make itself another NHL farm league? Do the clubs think that this will somehow increase scoring? (While not recognizing that lower scoring levels are due to good players playing in other leagues).

I was hoping that this was a big hoax, but Joeri Loonen would not post anything like this based on pure hearsay and speculation like 'Pelle Eklund' would.

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