It is always interesting to see some news worthy items that just might get overlooked by many in the 24 hours prior to the NHL Entry Draft if we were not so nosy. We bring these up because while so many are focused about the top picks that few are saying much about these items.
We are talking about the 3 rule changes that the NHL is planning on for the start of next season. Overall we think these rules changes are a start but we wonder why just these 3 because there remain several areas of the game that demand attention.
The first rule change is regarding the first first faceoff starting a power play. The rule number is 76.2 and it is being changed that the first face off of a power play will be held in the defending team's defensive zone.
We like it (and also do not like it from a Ranger stand point) because it means you take an offensive zone penalty leading to the other guy getting a power play then you have to defend it from your own zone. To us we see it as a way to force teams to play with more discipline (IE the Rangers) and not take those maddening dumb penalties in the offensive zone.
We view it as an extra incentive to avoid not thinking which is at times badly needed. It is a start to what we hope to seeing teams realize that playing undisciplined hockey will have a second price.
Rule change number 2 is badly needed as it addresses icing mainly contact between 2 players racing for the puck as the new rule will read as: "Any contact between opposing players while pursuing the puck on an icing must be for the sole purpose of playing the puck and not for eliminating the opponent from playing the puck. Unnecessary or dangerous contact could result in penalties being assessed to the offending player."
To us it is a start but we wanted to see it go a lot further as in our eyes the "Unnecessary or dangerous contact could result in penalties being assessed to the offending player" should be viewed as an "Intent to Injure" penalty which is an automatic 5 minute major.
We have no problem with players going after the puck trying to either earn the icing or to cancel one out but we have seen too many times where one player basically uses the situation as an attempt to deliver what they think is a punishing hit which causes someone to get hurt.
In our eyes that is something that players do not need to do in a game as if you want to hit someone there are always chances to hit someone. The key is to not try to hit someone while they are in a position where they are unable to protect themselves.
That rule change will be 81.1in the NHL rulebook.
The final change is one that we wondered why it has taken so long to address. We are talking about what will be known as rule 85.5. We are talking about if the puck goes out of play after being shot and deflecting over the goal post, goal frame or crossbar. For years the resulting faceoff was determined by who caused the deflection thus the face off could wind up leaving the offensive zone.
No more as starting with next season, the faceoffs will now remain in the defensive zone. To us it is a move that makes sense mainly because almost 100% of pucks going off the goal posts or whatever are because someone was making an offensive play.
Moving the puck out of the defensive zone in our eyes was rewarding the defense and punishing the offense for what really was a legit scoring play. It simply made no sense to move the puck out of the defensive zone because the defense did nothing to earn that break.
But one area that still does not get addressed and in our eyes ever so badly needs to be is in the area of "diving" as the NHL really has to address this issue once and for all. This is not our way of going after Crosby or any one player but what we feel is a failure to clearly define this issue once and for all.
See to us when a player dives then he is cheating and needs to be punished more so than the supposed original offender. Either the original offender caused a penalty or he did not but to punish both in our eyes has always been wrong.
Our point of view is for the NHL to make the penalty for "diving" fit the crime. If you embellish a play then instead of 2 equal penalties the player who is caught diving should earn a double minor.
Punish not reward someone who commits an act of "unsportsmanlike conduct" which is how refs define diving to begin with. We bet that when teams are having to kill off penalties because of diving we will see a decrease in the amount of "diving" in the NHL.
And for those who say how can you tell who is and who is not "diving" please spare us as when we see players who can stay up despite all the contact then go down to the ice after barely being touched then it is kind of clear.
We also did not see once again the NHL realize that the instigator rule is causing not preventing problems. Sadly it seems that the increase in the number of suspect hits or runs did not send a message to the NHL .
The instigator basically shields the cowardly antics of a few from being addressed right then and there on the ice. How many times did one see an NHL headline start with "Flyer play Suspended For Dirty Hit" this past season?
One was too many and what keeps many a cheapshot artist in the NHL is knowing that he is protected by a bad rule that punishes a team from defending itself on the ice. We are not saying we want to see players being able to just go up to someone and sucker punch someone.
What we want is for players to realize that if they on purpose step on another player's skate, if they get "cutesy" and spear someone when the refs are not looking or do anything that could cause a player to get hurt then we want them to know that footsteps are coming.
We want a cheapshot artist to realize that if you play dirty then you have a price to pay for your behavior. No more of seeing a player lost due to a concussion because of the antics of another.
Speaking of concussions another area where we are so disappointed that the NHL also did not address a serious concern regarding players who cause others to miss time because of a cheap shot. We had hoped that the NHL would consider linking a player's suspension to how long the player they injured was out of action.
So what if a player gets a 10 game suspension when the player they hurt has to miss 20, 30, or more games because of a cheapshot? Why not send a real message and impose real punishments to try to cut out some of these incidents?
How about when you hurt someone because of a dirty play then your suspension is linked to how long the player you hurt is out of action? Spare us the "how do you tell what is dirty because the NHL reviews the tapes from several angles so it becomes very clear even to someone using a DVR and 42 inch TV.
We want to see something like if your action directly causes a player to miss 10 games then you miss the 10 games that player was out (without pay of course) and then an additional 5-10-whatever depending on what your behavior history is.
In other words when someone like a Patrice Bergeron only gets to play 10 regular season games out of 82 because of another player (and we all know who I am talking about) then something is wrong when that offending player only serves a 10 game suspension.
IF you really want to punish someone then make them pay just like those they injure only without any pay. Watch players get their act together when it costs them a full season's worth of pay.
What we also did not see is anything about addressing what we believe is a universal call for serious improvements in the level of NHL officiating period. If there is one thing that NHL fans can agree on is that the NHL officiating has gotten worse and worse with each passing year since the lockout.
We will not go as far as to think there is any kind of favoritism towards teams or specific NHL players but rather that there is a serious lack of one set system employed by all NHL referees equally and consistently. That lack of consistency fuels the feeling among NHL fans that certain players or teams are given the benefit of the doubt on calls or are protected.
Demand the one system for all players and consistently enforce that system will allow the game to grow as right now players and coaches have no idea one game to the next how it will be called.
We sadly have seen 2 different referees in the same game call it 2 different ways and that is totally unacceptable for what is supposed to be a major league sport. Stop talking about improving the officiating just do it already.
Can We Clear Some Things Up Please?
OK so we do not agree with Yahoo's Puck Daddy on everything and yes some of the stuff is not our cup of tea BUT what it does not mean is that we dislike the guy or think he is some kind of evil whatever.
IF you are getting the message that we got some kind of problem with him as a person then boy you are so off base. Puck Daddy is someone we read because unlike so many others in the hockey world his stuff is NOT about being ego driven like some in the hockey media.
IF you got that impression then we want to tell the world that was not our intent and we are going to apologize to Puck Daddy for creating that impression. PD is strange and deranged at times with how he operates BUT it is his show so he gets to call his choice of music.
You know if you do not like what you see on the tube then turn the channel so we should have worded our post from earlier this week better. Sorry PD now will you please give us back our night light?
For Friday we will help get you ready for the NHL Entry Draft's First Round Friday night as we will be working with Dubi over at the Blueshirt Bulletin to be live blogging the event as it takes place.
We will be using this site to provide deeper looks at the various picks as they happen during round 1
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