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Town Hall Debate: What Rules Should the NHL Change?

It's time to reopen the debate floor.

Coach Bruce understands about as much of some of these rules as I do.
Coach Bruce understands about as much of some of these rules as I do.

My fellow citizens, current events have given me a whirlwind of mixed emotions and thus I feel now is a good time to step away from Anaheim-centered topics and focus on other issues that our beloved sport faces.

The NHL is not perfect. If anyone tells you it is, they're a blubbering idiot who needs to be slapped. Please do so multiple times: once for me, and as many times as you need to for yourself.

And while the league is constantly working to improve both the game it plays as well as its policies and rules (success is open for debate, however), I think everyone can agree with me when I say there are some areas that need significant work and improvement.

So thus this Town Hall Debate will have a very open-ended question: What rules do you think the NHL should change?

I'll open the discussion with a few starters as well and present some points both in favor of and against the rule as they are currently written.

Touch-up vs. No-Touch Icings

I really don't understand how we got to this point but the NHL is extensively experimenting with changing up the icing rule from the traditional defensive-touch-up rule to a form of "no-touch" icing that would still involve a race for the puck, called "hybrid" icing.

Why? Guys get hurt from collisions while racing to be the first to the puck on an icing call. Most recently Carolina defenseman Joni Pitkanen was injured after losing an edge and colliding violently with the boards in one of these icing races.

There have been even more in years past so NHL GM's, who are fed up with losing players to injuries from these races, are beginning to call for a change in the rule to prevent these.

-Pros: Changing the icing rule would get rid of the injuries from these races and eliminate what many people consider to be a very unnecessary risk to players. Likewise, as a player, I can tell you just how much of a pain it is to have to chase the puck down and touch it just to get the call. It wastes a lot of energy.

-Cons: Changing this would eliminate one of the exciting moments in a hockey game. An icing race can be a momentum changer and many times create a great scoring chance thanks to the hustle of one forward. Even in hybrid icing, the players are only racing to the tops of the circles, eliminating the distance needed to travel by around 20 feet and thus giving the defense a pretty significant advantage still. In a league that's already beginning to hurt for goals again, eliminating chances for offense seems completely against their supposed mission for more action.

My Opinion: Don't change it. Yes there are injuries, but I haven't been able to find a year where there have been more than two. And while goals off of these aren't guaranteed either, it's better to let teams have more chances than it is to take them away when you're talking about scoring goals.

Puck Over Glass Delay-of-Game

A lot of people are calling this the stupidest rule in the NHL. I disagree. I'll get to what I actually think is the stupidest rule in the NHL in a moment (though if you follow me on Twitter you already know what I think it is), but I think the puck-over-glass rule has a place in the game.

First instituted after the 2004 lockout, the puck-over-glass rule was designed to punish players who would get stoppages, alleviate pressure, and get a line change by simply tossing the puck over the glass in their own defensive zone. This was slowing play down and bringing the game to the pace of a snail that might as well have been frozen into the ice before the game even started.

While it's a huge pain in the ass when your team gets called for it with less than a minute remaining and you're under a huge load of pressure, it's a black-and-white call that's made regardless of intent. As a result there's motivation to keep the play moving as well as reward teams who do a good job sustaining pressure in the opposition end; there are no more cop-outs to get a free line change.

-Pros: The rule put an immediate stop to what was becoming a pretty bad problem before the last lockout with players tossing pucks over the glass to get a stoppage of play. They initially made it so goaltenders couldn't do it but that didn't really change much as defensemen just started doing it instead. Likewise, it generates a lot of additional powerplays which add drama and goals to games from the extra scoring chances.

-Cons: It punishes players who accidentally toss the puck over the glass while trying to make a hockey play, and thus can punish someone for something so small and insignificant. It can have far too much of an influence on the final outcome of the game, especially as it forces a team to go shorthanded which is made even more significant when one team already has a large amount of sustained pressure and momentum.

My Opinion: Keep the rule as-is. When the NHL also instituted the no-change-on-icings rule, they needed to do something to stop teams from taking the alternative route and just tossing the puck over the glass instead to get a change. The two are designed to work hand-in-hand to create more scoring chances and thus more goals. It sucks when it's an accident and/or called against your team, but it's a black-and-white call that's a great solution to what was becoming a problem, and likewise gives the game some more drama. Out of all of the rules instituted after the 2004 lockout, this is the one that I feel has been the best for the sport on the ice.

Line Changes on Icings

This has become an issue far too often and I'm shocked it hasn't been addressed yet. In an effort to get a little more rest before a faceoff after taking an icing call, some coaches will attempt to sneak a fresh player onto the ice illegally. This of course makes the opposing coach throw a fit (rightly so) and then the officials have to spend another few minutes figuring out which players should be on the ice. All the while the team who took the icing call in the first place is resting, essentially negating the entire icing penalty in the first place. It's extremely unfair, delays the game, and is a very dirty tactic for teams looking to dodge the rules.

One notable example came a couple years ago in a playoff game between San Jose and Detroit. I was unable to find video of the incident but Detroit attempted to make an illegal change and then continued to argue it when the officials came over to resolve the issue. In total the entire ordeal took over five minutes to resolve and cost San Jose any momentum and advantage they had gained from forcing the icing out of the Wings. Go figure it's the Red Wings pulling shady stuff again...

-Pros: With teams rapidly scrambling to change, it can be hard to tell who was actually on the ice at the time of the icing infraction and thus penalizing teams who accidentally make this mistake should not be considered at fault.

-Cons: Pretty much everything I stated above. The entire spirit of the "new" icing rule gets negated and teams get extra rest despite committing an icing violation. It's a dirty, black-hat tactic, much like a goaltender suddenly having "an equipment issue" on an icing infraction as well.

My Opinion: Any team found to be attempting to illegally change players on an icing infraction automatically receives a two-minute delay of game penalty and is still disqualified from changing players before the restart of the play. So thus, even trying means you will go shorthanded and will have tired players on the ice who may or may not even be penalty killers. That will put a stop to this pretty quick.

Hand usage on Faceoffs

Starting this past season, touching the puck with your hand to help you win a faceoff became an automatic minor penalty. If you're asking "Wait... why?" you're not alone. The rule seemingly came out of nowhere and even the guys on the ice struggled to adapt as they were busted (albeit rather rarely) for that one little bit of desperate hand contact to try to keep control of the puck.

-Pros: Um... it prevents guys from cheating and using their hands when this is hockey and the game is played with the stick? Wait... you can grab the puck out of midair just about any other time? Well shoot. Pass.

-Cons: Extremely influential powerplays being given out for something that has never been an issue in the NHL (guys relying on their hands to win faceoffs). The crime isn't even really a crime when it comes to the spirit of the game, and the punishment is obscenely harsh for it. Likewise it completely negates a center who gets knocked over from even so much as trying to still scramble a faceoff win, completely eliminating competition for the puck.

My Opinion:


Pretty much this. via

In my opinion, this is the number-one, uncontested stupidest rule in the NHL, and mind you this is a league that somehow thought removing the spin-o-rama from the shootout was a good idea. When a center falls down or gets shoved to the ice on a faceoff do you expect him just to give up? No of course not. I can understand making it illegal for an offensive center to use his hand, much as in the same spirit of the hand-pass rule, but any center? That's just flat out dumb.

I mean if you absolutely have to punish the guy for doing something as blatantly trivial as this, then at least make it just a faceoff violation; kick him out of the circle and re-drop the puck. Forcing him to spend two minutes in the penalty box for it? That's beyond excessive.

There was zero reason to implement this. It wasn't a problem, guys covering or even touching the puck at all with their hands on faceoffs was very rare as most are resolved in milliseconds, and likewise an entire two minute penalty? Hell let's just start giving jaywalkers 20 years in prison. And while we're at it, those spin-o-rama boys can spend 100 hours doing community service for daring to be creative and risky.

Geeze when did the NHL have secret "How to Let Your People Have No Fun" meetings with North Korea?

Kicked-in Goals

The NHL has long had a rule stating any goal that is scored off an attacking player's skate with a "Distinct kicking motion," is in fact not a goal. This leads to more lengthy video reviews and grey-area calls than any other rule in the league and pretty much no matter what happens at least half of those watching it are going to disagree with the call made.

For a league that could really use some consistency on its rulings, the NHL has not wavered from this stance in I have no idea how many years. And I can understand the reasoning behind it as the rule was initially implemented to help keep skate blades on the ice and prevent people from injuring goalies while going for the net. This still somewhat holds true as we've seen some pretty gruesome skate injuries even in the modern game.

-Pros: Players, specifically goalies, are protected as players have no reason to lift their skate blade off the ice, and likewise have no motivation to use their skates as a tool with which to score. Overall makes play around the net that much safer.

-Cons: A pretty large number of potential goals are negated every year by this rule, many of them completely harmless and many more of them possibly would have counted had a different officiating crew been in charge of the call. It's so subjective that video evidence, regardless of how "definitive" it appears to be, is always will be subject to scrutiny. Likewise, this rule is preventing what could be good goals off of very clever athletic plays.

My Opinion: With protective gear being as advanced as it is, I think it's time to revisit this rule. Now I'm not calling for the league to allow players to just wave their sharp skate blades everywhere by any means, I'm just thinking maybe it's time we gave skaters a little freedom with this. Kicking the puck is legal in every other situation, so why not on the shot?

I say the league should experiment with allowing pucks that are kicked in where the skate blade does not leave contact with the surface of the ice to stand as legal goals.

Allowing players to kick pucks into the net is not going to prevent the stick from being the primary method of scoring, and likewise there is no added danger to goaltenders as there won't be any steel up in the air they could possibly get hit and injured with. And in return, the league sees an increase in scoring as forwards now have an additional tool which they can use as an offensive threat. If you think it's just going to turn into ice soccer... get on the ice and try to actually kick a puck as hard as you can. You'll see just how ineffective it is for distances longer than four feet.

I'm sure there are many other rules and opinions on them as well so as with last time... I yield the floor to you my fellow Anaheim Calling citizens.