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Sunday, July 24, 2005

New NHL Rules...

So the NHL is back (Yay!) and there are some new rules to go along with the new agreement. Some of them I'm not so sure about, but overall I don't really have any big complaints about the new rules.

One of the rule changes that immediately jumps out at me is the elimination of the 2 line pass penalty. In the new rules, the Red Center Line is basically ignored, meaning a team can make a pass from the defending blue line to the attacking blue line. To me this is a great change, as I think it will eliminate the incredibly boring 'trap' game perfected by teams like the N.J. Devils.

The 'trap' game is a sound defensive strategy, but I think even a hockey fan will tell you it's boring as hell to watch. There are very few scoring opportunities in this style of game. Both teams spend pretty much the whole game skating around in the middle of the ice. With this new rule, that is not going to happen anymore and that makes for more exciting hockey.

The neutral zone in the center of the ice has also been made smaller. This is another good rule change in my opinion. It means teams are going have more scoring opportunities.

The new 'tag up' rule will be interesting. Players that were in the offensive zone before the puck now can go back and 'tag' the blueline to stay onside. Sounds good. I have no problem with this one in theory. We'll see how it works in a real game.

One rule that I found a little strange was the limiting of where goalies can play the puck. In the new rules, there is a small area behind the net and that is the only area that goalies are allowed to play the puck. So that means a goalie can't play the puck in the corners anymore? That one makes me go 'hmmm'.

Also, decreasing the size of the goalies pads and other equipment seems a little strange. I understand the point of all this is to increase scoring and offense, but at the same time, a little defense is fun to watch too. Most of these new rules give a lot of advantages to the Offense. The Defensive guys are really going to have it a lot harder now (Kind of reminds me of the NFL.)

Does the NHL want to see double digit scores in hockey games? Will it come to that? I don't know but we will find out!

Other new NHL rules minutia:

If a team intentionally ices the puck, that team can no longer perform a line change. The players must stay out on the ice. Hmmm. Again, this rule is meant to make it harder on the defense and I think we're going to see some pretty winded guys out there. I'm not sure how I feel about this one. We'll just have to see how it works out.

No more tie games. If a game remains tied after an overtime period, there will be a shootout to determine a winner. That's cool. Under the old rules, a lot of times teams would intentionally play to hold onto or get the tie, just so they could get the point for the standings. This new shootout rule will eliminate that and I think this is a good thing. I know when I go to see a game and it ends in a tie, it's kind of a letdown. At the end of a game people want to see a winner. Now there will always be a winner at the end of every hockey game. This is a good move.

Game misconduct:
The NHL seems to be laying down the law as far as game misconduct goes. Now if a player screws up, he is automatically suspended for one game and the coach is fined too. That will prove interesting. I have no problem with this stuff. If it makes hockey a 'cleaner' game, it's fine with me.

Obviously, the reason behind all these changes is to make hockey a more offense-oriented and exciting game to watch, with increased scoring and up and down action on the ice. I was a big fan of the way Olympic hockey was played, so if these rules make the NHL more like Olympic style play, I am all for it.

It will remain to be seen how much these new rules improve the 'flow' of the game until we actually start seeing them in action, but most of the changes are positive in my opinion. Plus, it's not like these rules are now set in stone. They can be tweaked as it becomes necessary.

Like most hockey fans, I'm just glad to see that the NHL players and owners finally got their acts together and worked out a deal. It's good to have hockey coming back. I missed it. I think these new rules will make hockey a more fun game to watch.


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