Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Debating all those bizarre new 3ICE rules in a special session of Rules Court

Someday, maybe, we’ll look back at the 3ICE three-on-three hockey league’s inaugural season as the start of something. A reliably fun summer distraction? Perhaps. A way for players on the fringe of pro hockey to make solid money? We’re already there, in fact.

No matter what happens down the line, though, the league has already accomplished something huge. It’s a rules test kitchen. What’s more honorable than that? What could be more important?

So, for our third edition of Rules Court, we didn’t ask for your submissions. The 3ICE rulebook took care of that. All that’s left is for us — Sean McIndoe, Ian Mendes and Sean Gentille — is to cherrypick some of the league’s gutsier innovations and figure out whether they could (or should) be applied to NHL games. We weren’t necessarily limiting them to overtime, either.

What works? What doesn’t? And what maybe-kinda-sorta-someday could make sense? We debated seven separate 3ICE-specific rules, as outlined in Greg Wyshynski’s deep dive on the league’s first season at ESPN.

As always, we sent a copy of our work to the NHL’s Manhattan office (via fax) and expect to hear back from them forthwith.

No power plays

That’s right. The folks at 3ICE have decided to do away with special teams entirely. There are still penalties, but they no longer result in a man advantage. Instead, every call leads to a penalty shot. (More on those in a second.)

McIndoe: Nope!

Look, I can already sense that I might be the grumpy old man of the group here, and I’m good with that. The waistband on my pants is chafing my armpits, I want you to get off my lawn, and I don’t think we need radical changes to the very soul of the sport to improve things in the NHL. I’m not against change — I’m the guy who thinks we could solve all sorts of problems by just making the nets bigger and is willing to fight you about it — but this sort of thing is a bridge too far.

Power plays are cool. Penalty killing is cool. Penalty shots are also cool, when they’re rare, which they were back before the shootout came along and made them feel pedestrian. Replacing power plays with penalty shots would be overkill, would turn even-strength play into a diving contest, and would just make everyone even madder at the referees for not calling obvious fouls in the name of game management.

We’re one proposal in and I’m already cranky. NO.

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