At the All Star Game Commissioner, Gary Bettman and Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly held a press conference to chat about the pressing league issues. The main topics were player and puck tracking (which is going to be awesome), CBA negotiations, and the scoring increase and parity in the league. One thing that wasn’t touched on was rules of the game.
Recent rule changes like the change in goalie pads, the implementation of a 2-minute penalty for a failed offside challenge, and if we go back a bit further, the trapezoid have impacted the game heavily, but there are still many things the league can do to improve the sport as a whole.
That’s where I come in. If you don’t know much about me my favorite part of all of sports is the rules. I love sports rulebooks, maybe even more than I love the games themselves. I’ve read the NHL rulebook cover to cover three times and I intend on doing it again every single offseason that I cover hockey. In doing so, my mind is always triggered to minor and major rule changes I’d love to see enacted by the NHL. Today, I present five, starting with the least invasive one and moving up to the crazier ones.
Rule Change 1
When a period ends with a team on the power play, the face-off to open the following period should be taken from the offensive zone of the team on the man advantage.
Currently, all start of period draws are taken at center ice. Normally, that would make sense, but when a team is on a power play, the end of the period is actually a bonus to the team who committed the penalty. It’s a free zone exit when the game-clock hits 0:00. Why? Instead, if there is still time on the power play clock, the draw should occur in the offensive zone, like how most power plays start. It’s a simple rule change, and it makes way too much sense not to enact as soon as possible.
Rule Change 2
For the purpose of offside, the blue line should act as a vertical plane.
In order to enter the zone properly, the puck must fully cross the blue line before every player. To determine this, the league uses players’ skates physically touching the ice. It leads to many incredibly close calls along the blue line in which even on super slow-mo we can’t tell when the player lifted his foot. Throw that in the garbage, instead, view the blue line like the endzone in football. If any portion of a players body (with the exception of their stick) is even with the vertical plane created by the blue line they will be determined to have not yet entered the zone.
It will make calls on the ice easier for linesman and it will make reviews much easier for the Situation Room in Toronto. It’s a simple change and will be a bit tricky to write into the rules, but it’s a good change that will help the game in the long term.
Rule Change 3
EITHER Allow the full two minutes to run off the clock before allowing a player out of the penalty box (even if a team scores) OR Enforce icing during power plays