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Save This Game! An Index of Ideas for NHL Rule Changes

Page Three: Penalty killers, point counters and goal scorers.

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Make All Penalized Players Serve The Full Penalty

A guy might think twice before clutching or whacking if he sits the entire two minutes, regardless of how many power play goals are scored. A variation would see the full-service option applied only to the most dangerous infractions – slashing, high-sticking, checking from behind, etc.

But power plays already have a huge influence on the game. Is it a good idea to make them even more powerful? And isn’t this skirting the issue? The problem with too many NHL games isn’t the severity of the punishment; it’s that so many penalties aren’t called in the first place.

Call Icing Against Penalty-Killing Teams

Another idea that would make power plays more dangerous, thereby discouraging players from taking penalties. The cause-and-effect notion is suspect.

Replace Two-Minute Penalties With Penalty Shots

What would a coach rather have? Two minutes with the man advantage or one free breakaway? Many would surely prefer the penalty shot. So would many fans.

Eliminate Faceoffs After Icing

Instead, the team that iced the puck loses possession. The opponent is given control of the puck in the neutral zone or attacking zone.

End the Restriction On Curved Sticks

Goalies are well protected, so why limit curves to a maximum of 1/2 inch? If a guy can stickhandle with a banana blade and launch harder or less predictable shots, let him do it. Several players and media types favor of this one, but it doesn't seem to be a priority.

Outlaw The Composite Sticks

Everybody knows the frustration of watching one of those new sticks disintegrate during a crucial moment in a game. This idea might have succeeded if put in place when composite sticks first appeared. But there's likely no turning back now.

Move the Nets Back (adopted by NHL for 2005-06)

There is 13 feet of wasted space behind the nets. Moving each net a couple of feet closer to the boards gives players more room where they need it - out front. The blue lines could move a couple of feet as well, creating a larger neutral zone more conducive to passing and attacking.

This was recommended last year by NHL general managers, and will likely go ahead at some point.

Rescind The Instigator Rules

Players and coaches agree that this rule does little more than invite the abuse of star players. The guy who steps in to protect the star is the one hit with a two-minute penalty for "instigating" the fight, and a suspension for repeat offences. As long as this rule is in place, the slashers and hackers need not fear retribution. But the league has refused to budge on it.

End The Icing Race

Most players want "no-touch" icing. But some GMs are not so enthusiastic. The race to touch the puck on icing does little more than lead to occasional season-ending injuries.

Play Fewer Game

Media reports in 2004 suggested the NHL was considering cutting back the schedule, from 82 games to perhaps 72. Fans wouldn't mind at all, especially if it results in healthier and more energetic hockey players. Team trainers believe many injuries, like groin, hip flexor and abdominal problems, are caused by over-use and fatigue. But there's been no further word on this idea lately.

Award Bonus Points to High-Scoring Teams

Any team scoring more than five goals in a game gets an extra point in the standings. Or something like that. Nobody's going near this one anytime soon. But if you want more offense...

Change The Points System to Reward Offense

Last year, NHL general managers proposed that three points be awarded for a win in regulation time. An overtime or shootout win would be worth two points, while an overtime or shootout loss is rewarded with one point. Ties would be eliminated by the shootout.

That way, a win and a loss in regulation would be worth more than a couple of overtime losses - this rewards teams that play aggressive hockey in the first 60 minutes.

Other formulas for rejigging the system have been floated. But there has been little talk about the GMs proposal since 2004.

Change The Playoff Format

Some argue that fewer teams should qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. But allowing 16 of 30 teams into the post-season seems a reasonable percentage.

Instead, the NHL has reportedly decided to get even more teams involved: according to a new plan, the top six teams in each conference would qualify for the playoffs. The next four teams in each conference would then conduct a preliminary, best-of-three "play-in" round, with the winners advancing to complete the usual 16-team pool. It would add excitement and reward the top 12 teams by giving them a rest before the playoffs begin.

Eliminate Teams

This is an old favorite, based on the idea that the hockey talent pool is diluted, and the dilution hurts the quality of the game. It's a bogus argument. Read The NHL Contraction Myth for more.

See Also:
Page 1: Open season on the NHL rule book
Page 2: Change the ice? Change the players?

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