New Season, New Rules?

You could be seeing a one of these in every NHL net this year. Photo: Dave Sandford/NHLI

It is not uncommon for the NHL to tinker with the rules of the game during training camp.  This year it is no different.  The net area is looking at a possible makeover, and a number of ideas is being presented by NHL Research to enhance hockey.

The most notable change is in the picture above.  That is what is being called a “goal verification line.”  In order to assist video reviewers in Toronto about whether or not a puck crossed the red line, a mint colored line will be placed behind that red line.  It will be one puck-length back, so if a puck touches the mint line, the puck is by that point completely past the goal line, making it a goal.  Reviewers will also be aided by thinner mesh and higher-definition cameras in the net.  A sharp eye might also catch a slimmer net.  The NHL is considering cutting the depth of the net from 44 inches to 40.  That would allow for more room behind the net, more passing lanes, and more wrap-around shots.

The verification line and shallow net appear to be accepted by every faction, so expect those changes next year.  A few other proposals may not make it off the drawing board.

One of the more controversial proposals is a new face-off rule.  If a center commits a face-off violation, he is moved behind a line one foot further away from the face-off dot and the face-off is retaken.  NHL analyst Mike Johnson thinks that this rule would be a big impediment, and could seriously drop some face-off statistics.  Players known around the NHL to cheat in the circle, would be handicapped on the next face-off, not switched out.  It appears to still be on the drawing board at this stage.

One more change for face-offs is having the same linesman drop the puck every time.  This might be more for the players benefit than the any fans watching the game, but the consistency of having just one guy seems like a good idea.

A no-brainer for me is the possibility of putting in curved glass next to the team’s benches.  In lieu of the Pacioretty-Chara incedent, it seems wise for the NHL make a change.  Whether or not curved class will change the danger of those hits is still unknown, but at the problem isn’t being ignored.

Goalies are not being overlooked, either.  A possible new penalty could be introduced to prevent goalies from ripping up the crease after a period to inhibit skating ability for the opposing goalie in the next period.  Also, teams could switch sides again for the regular season’s overtime period.  Goalies would defend the same net during the overtime/shootout and the second period.  The background for this possible change is wanting to end more games in overtime, and maybe if the goalies are positioned this way a few breakaways might develop.  The whole purpose is to avoid shootouts: the NHL was apparently concerned by the number of SOs last year.  Maybe next year there will be more changes made in the overtime system, but for now things will stay the same.

Maybe a few changes on icing and hand passes will be passed, but for now, this is what the NHL is looking at changing.

So what do you think, Panther fans?  Is there a rule change you’d like or wouldn’t like to see?  Be sure to comment below.

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