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Tuesday, July 05, 2005

The fact that New Jersey broke hockey in the early 90s is just now coming to the attention of the NHL, although not without protest. The NHL's new competition committee has recommended a number of rules changes over the howling of GMs that used to have power in this area but used it for evil instead of good. The proposed rules include:

  • Promotion of the free flow of play. (Incidentally, many of these are already part of the NCAA game. CHL SUX!!1!) Tag-up offsides returns. The nets are moved back a couple feet to increase the size of the offensive zone. The two line pass dies a merciful death. A no-touch icing rule (explanation later) is implemented and teams that commit an icing infraction are not allowed to make a line change. Blue lines are fattened to increase the size of the offensive zone and to make it harder to stall rushes at the blueline.
  • Reining in goalies. Goalies are no longer allowed to play the puck outside of a designated area directly behind their net. Their pads have to look less like sumo suits and more like, you know, old-timey goalie pads.
  • Meaningless ref admonishment. Blah blah obstruction blah blah.
  • Retarded overtime stuff. Okay, take the current overtime, then extend it three minutes with teams playing three on three and if the game is still tied, have a shootout. And, while you're at it, throw acid in my eyes.
The no-touch icing is different than the NCAA rule wherein a puck played from behind the red line is blown dead the minute it crosses the goal line. The proposed NHL rule is that the play is blown dead when the defensive player chasing the puck crosses the goal line. If the first player to cross is an offensive player, the icing is waved off.

mgoblog is generally in favor of all these proposed rules changes (they haven't been adopted yet), especially the little bit of genius in regards line changes after to icing. That's a simple and effective way of removing part of the incentive to slap the puck down the ice when you find yourself in trouble (as long as TV timeouts can't intrude in that space of time). The only exception is the overtime circus. The game isn't troubled by too many ties, it's troubled by too few interesting things happening in regulation.

The NCAA isn't going to let the NHL have all the wacky rules changing fun. Red Berenson apparently asked the NCAA if it could use exhibition games to experiment with a funky change to the offsides rule:
The proposal would change the attacking zone boundary from the blue line to the center ice red line after the traditional zone is gained legally. So, if the attacking team gains the traditional attacking zone legally under current rules on side, the attacking zone expands to include the space between the blue line and the center ice red line.
Whoah. mgoblog's initial reaction is positive: hockey has a lot of artificial ways of relieving pressure, and amongst the most annoying is poking the puck a millimeter out of the zone. This generally leads to an ugly scrum in the neutral zone and a dump-in after the offense has cleared the zone that leads to another ugly scrum in the corners. The change sort of functions like a BALCO version of mgoblog's desire to see bluelines that are three feet wide: the attacking zone is much bigger. The rule change also prevents cherry-picking by leaving the offsides rule intact.

The rest of the rules changes are fairly mundane, but there are a few that will come up next year. The NCAA has adopted the NHL rules for scoring with your skate (legal as long as you don't kick), crease violations (ok as long as you aren't interfering with the goalie), and goalie equipment size (reduced going in to 2006) and allowed any game to be subject to video review. All are fine by me. Unfortunately this wasn't passed:
12.7b.A4 subrule 4: Mark Wilkins can't referee games anymore, not even mites.
(HT: Packer487 on The Wolverine.)