Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Replace shootouts with 2-on-1s? No free icing on penalty kills? Goalies are fair game? Rules Court is back in session

Everyone please rise, Rules Court is back in session.

If you missed the first edition a few months ago, the concept is simple. You send in your proposed NHL rule changes – big or small, realistic or silly – and make your best case for them. A jury of me, Sean Gentille and Ian Mendes will consider your arguments and deliver our verdict. Convince at least two out of three us, and your proposal becomes an official new NHL rule. (Note: It will not become an official new NHL rule.)

Last time, we considered seven proposals and voted yes on three of them. Not bad, but now that you’ve had a while to think about making your case, I’d expect the success rate to go up. You submitted over 100 new entries for this edition, and we picked eight to consider. Let’s see how you did…

Note: Submissions have been edited for clarity and style.

Call icing infractions for teams on the penalty kill. Why does a guilty team get the advantage of being able to clear the puck and change? Never made sense to me. – Anthony L

Mendes: I’ve also never understood why a penalized team gains an exception to a rule (icing) that is in effect while teams are at even strength. Like, imagine if penalized teams were allowed to clear the puck over the glass as many times as they wanted during a penalty kill. It’s basically the same logic here. A rule that is in effect during even strength situations mysteriously vanishes for random two-minute intervals during the course of a game.

When penalized teams are allowed to ice the puck, they’re able to change on the fly during a penalty kill – putting a fresh unit on the ice. But if the icing was enforced as it should be, all penalty killers would be forced to stay on the ice for the ensuing face off in their own zone. I could see how this could make it difficult for shorthanded teams to execute line changes, especially in the second period when the “long change” is in effect. But I believe this should lead to more goals and I’m always in favour of that. YES.

McIndoe: As the guy who gets to sort through all the suggestions you guys send in, I can say that this one was extremely popular, maybe even the one that showed up most often. And on the surface, I get it. We want offense, powerplays should be more dangerous, and watching a team shoot the puck all the way down the ice to kill time is boring.

My one concern is the same one I have with lots of offense-friendly changes: That coaches would ruin it, in this case by just having their teams ice it anyway, under the logic that killing even ten seconds of a two-minute powerplay is worth the offensive zone faceoff. Or maybe we just see players perfect the art of the rink-wide flip that doesn’t quite make it all the way to the icing line. Either way, I don’t think this one would work as well as people seem to think, but I’m willing to give it a try. Mark me down for a hesitant YES.

Gentille: That’s the way a lot of these debates tend to go, yeah? One of us says, “Yeah, of course this should be a rule,” another says, “Sure, but coaches are gonna find some way to warp and ruin it,” and then we eventually settle on, “OK, mark up another tentative yes.” And fellas, we’ve got another one. Do I think some coaches would eventually instruct players to ignore the illegality of it all? Yeah. I also tend to think that there’s something ingrained in coaches — it could be genetic, I’m not a scientist — that’ll still win out, in plenty of cases.

And either way, it’s worth it. Legalized icing during the P.K. is one of those things that we’ve watched our entire lives and internalized, for whatever reason, as being something other than nonsensical and unfair. It’s both, actually. If your guy is in the box, there shouldn’t be a temporary rule change to your advantage. YES

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