Sunday, July 11, 2004

AHL to Try out New Rules for NHL

The American Hockey League, the minors to the NHL, have elected to make a few changes to the way the game is played for next season. In this article at the Pittsburgh Post Gazette it underlines a few things being changed for the upcoming 2004-05 AHL season. If all goes well, they will be suggested to the NHL and adopted there as rule changes to their games.

  • Adopting a no-touch icing rule as is used in international play. Play will be blown dead as soon as the puck crosses the goal line.
  • Using a shootout to decide regular-season games tied after a five-minute overtime.
  • Returning to the "tag-up" offside rules the league used from 1986-96. Players who are caught in the offensive zone in a delayed-offside situation can negate the offside by "tagging up" with the blue line.
  • Increasing the size of the neutral zone by moving nets from 13 feet in front of the end boards to 11 and expanding the width of the blue lines and center-ice red line from 12 to 24 inches. Passes from the defensive edge of one blue line to the offensive edge of the other will be legal.
  • Also, for the first seven weeks of the 2004-05 season, the AHL will experiment with rules that restrict where goalies are allowed to play the puck.

I don't see why any of these drastic rule changes are going to solve much of anything in the NHL. The game is fine the way it is. Experts argue that the rule changes, especially the one about "no-touch" icing would make the game flow faster. The icing rule won't stop anything. The players will only ice the puck as much as they did. Only this time, there won't be as much time lost for a player to get to the puck. It won't do a darn thing in strategy.

It's also bad on the goalies who can move the puck well. If you restrict their play, there will be even more stoppages. Errors do occur with goalies who mis-handle the puck and when that happens, usually a good team can take advantage of that and score. The overtime rules is just REALLY dumb. I don't know of anyone who will be willing enough to sit around even longer to see a game end, most "fair weather" fans are already making their way to the parking lots at the end of regulation.
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