Saturday, July 23, 2005


The Changing Landscape of the NHL

The NHL will never be the same again, folks! As was feared, the NHL seems to have gone 'too far' with some of these rule changes...although it could have been worse.

Here is the damage, per the official release from the NHL.

Let's look at the MAJOR changes we'll be facing when the puck hits the ice in October.

Two-Line Passing: Passes from behind the defensive blue line to the attacking blue line will be considered legal. The center red line will be ignored for purposes of the "two line pass".

(Look for defensive-minded coaches to put the reigns on their defensemen even more as they want to protect from the long passes. What we could gain in long-bomb passes could be negated by having less defensemen attacking. As someone who follows European hockey, I've always had reservations about the NHL adopting this rule. Many European leagues are incredible defensive-minded, mainly because of systems designed to protect against long breakout passing.)

No-Touch Icing: "Touch" icing will remain the practice, although the Linesman will have discretion to wave off apparent icing infractions if they are deemed the result of an attempted pass. Providing the discretion to the Linesman also should have the effect of reducing the number of situations in which a race for the puck might result in an injury to a player.

(I like this compromise, though, like Don Cherry, I'd rather have "No-Touch". With the increased amount of long passes we'll be seeing, we need to have the linesmen ensure that we don't get a parade of long-bomb passes that are always whistled down. )

A team that ices the puck cannot make a line change prior to the ensuing face-off.

(Good, no more free passes for tired defenders! Tired defenders = mistakes = goal scoring chances!)

SHOOTOUTS: Regular-season games that are tied at the conclusion of overtime will be decided by a shootout round beginning in 2005-06, the National Hockey League announced today.

The new shootout rule guarantees a winner each game; ties have been eliminated. If a game remains tied after the five-minute, four-on-four overtime period, the teams will engage in a shootout, in which three skaters aside take alternating penalty shots against the opposing goaltender. If still tied after three shots per team, 'sudden-death' shots will be taken to reach a decision.

The League will award two points to a team that wins in regulation, overtime or the shootout; one point to a team that loses in overtime or the shootout; and no points to a team that loses in regulation.

(Sure, using a shootout of 3 players to decide a game played by a whole team. I don't want to repeat myself for the 1,000,000th time, but I'm really choked about shootouts since this is my least favourite aspect of European hockey.

It's too bad, also, that the NHL is awarding/rewarding shootout winners the exact same 2 points as teams who win in regulation time. Great, now we'll see all sorts of teams play it safe in the 3rd period to guarantee themselves a bonus point.

It's too bad the NHL didn't take a look into the "3 point" system I discussed previously.)

Goaltenders who play the puck behind the goal line but outside the designated puck handling area will be penalized for delay of game.

(Dumb, dumber, and dumbest! Why are we punishing the few goalies who are great puckhandlers [Brodeur, DiPietro]? I mean, if Brodeur thinks the risk of handling the puck outside of his crease is worth the reward, then he should be allowed. The NHL could have allowed goalies to play the puck outside this zone, but subject to the same 'law of the land' that all other players face. If Brodeur thinks he can play the puck and not get bodychecked, then let him try!)

Overcompensation - It's a trait of the desparate souls who can't see that common sense solutions are often the best ones. I am really hoping for the best, but I am fearing the worst.
I am willing to give these new rules a chance, but I, and all other NHL fans, will be watching like a skeptic hawk.

it isnt stupidity or even overcompensation that alarms meabout 90% of the rule changes, it is that they are all EXPERIMENTATIONS. most haven't even seen minor league tests and certainly the entirely package hasnt seen testing ANYWHERE. so assuming a change is offensive or defensive, or anti trap or whatever, is INSANE
I read a short blurb on sportsnet's hockey rumors that Martin Havlat came out against the two-line pass. He said (I don't think the article is still there) that the European League teams just play the trap deeper instead.

That no-touch icing is leaving too much to referee discression. It's all or nothing with me.
I'm all for the changes. I don't like them all but I love the fact that NHL is finally prepared to try multiple things to improve the game. I don't expect them all to work but at least they're trying now. I expect that this will be the norm for a few years as the competition committee gets rolling.
I agree with the two line pass issue in theory, it may promote a deeper trap. However, when used in conjunction with the "goalie zone" what it does is say to teams, "No problem, you want to play a deep trap, ok, but we'll dump and chase you to death." Remember, the NHL is going for a complete ban on obstruction (I know, I know, we've heard this before) and if you combine all three, the trap becomes meaningless for obvious reasons.

On the issue of the "goalie zone" I think its fair. Brodeur was basically a "sweeper" in soccer terms and its wonderful that he developed his puck handling abilities. Unfortunately for him, he's not a defenseman, he's a goalie, he's not meant to make breakout passes. Until the last decade no goalies did this, it was an unwanted evolution of the game and outside the spirit of the role of the goalie. He's there to stop shots, not play sweeper. Also, the idea of making them fair game is silly, anyone who's played goalie and skater knows that you can't move as well in goalie equipment and it creates an unnecessary risk to their health making them "fair game". Some would take the chance and that's just crazy. The "goalie zone" is a nice compromise - it prevents teams from doing a "ring around" dump in because the goalie can duck out and block the puck behind his goal and set it up for his defensemen but it also prevents the goalie from killing a legitimate dump in as a means of breaking up a trap or five along the blue line type tactics.
and that idiot bobby orr, hockewy wasn't plaey that way for 100 years before him. should have told that yahoo if he wanted to score and carry the puck he should have been a forward.

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