Feb. 9, 2012; Detroit, MI, USA; General managers Ken Holland (left) of the Detroit Red Wings and Brian Burke (right) of the Toronto Maple Leafs during an NHL press conference for the 2013 Winter Classic at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE

Rule Changes: Yay Or Nay?

As you know by now, the GM’s met this week to discuss possible rule changes for next season.  Among them are hybrid icing, re-inserting the red for two line passes, a “ringette” line for two line passes, and a penalty for a hand pass in your own zone.  Let’s see what each of these means and why I think they are good or stupid for the greatest game on the planet.

Hybrid Icing

I’ve been a proponent of hybrid icing for a long time based on my experience with it.  My experience with no-touch icing is going to about 50 Michigan State college hockey games.  They used automatic icing and it was never really noticed.  Yes, once in a while the offensive team had a clear shot at the puck, but for the most part, it was fine.

And that’s what I like about hybrid icing –  if the offensive player is clearly going to get to the puck first, the play continues.  If it’s close or the defending team is going to get the puck, the whistle blows.  This is great for safety reasons, plus, now the linesman can blow the whistle earlier, saving time, and giving us MORE HOCKEY!!  In the USHL and NCAA, the play cannot be called until a player reaches the faceoff dot in the end zone.  It looks like the GMs haven’t decided exactly how they want to word it, but it looks like this will be given a ‘go’ very soon, maybe even for next season.

Inserting The Red Line (two-line passes only)

I hate this suggestion.  With a passion.  How many times does a player who is maybe 5 feet inside his own blue line see a guy on a breakaway who happens to be already streaking over the red line?  Quite often.  With this rule, this breakaway stretch pass will no longer happen and defending teams will stack 4 or 5 players between the blue line and red line, making it very difficult to generate any speed through the neutral zone.  But, that’s the point – to decrease concussions.

I can’t recall of a single player being concussed off of a two-line pass.  Abdelkader was almost hurt when Ericsson gave him a suicide pass up the middle against St. Louis, but that was from a head shot.  If anyone can send me video or a concussion caused by a two-line pass or something close to it, I may change my mind…but probably not!

The Ringette Line

I have no idea why it’s called that, but let me explain it.  The rules currently allow a player to pass the puck from anywhere in his own zone up to the opposing team’s blue line with no two-line pass offsides.  With this rule, there will be a line at the top of the faceoff circles (I don’t know if it’s a real line or an imaginary line…).  If you are behind this line (closer to your net), you cannot pass the puck past the red line.  If you’re between the ringette and blue line, you may pass the puck up to the opposing blue line.

While this is better than the full two-line pass being inserted, I still think this is stupid.  If it’s an imaginary line, it’ll be difficult for the linesman to call since they stand at or just outside the blueline.  If it’s an actual line, then there is another line for the casual fan to get confused by and will be scared off of the game.  The “extended pass” portion of the game isn’t broken, so don’t fix it.

Hand-Pass Penalty

You more than likely already know the current rule – hand passes are only allowed in the defensive zone.  If they occur in the neutral or offensive zones, the play stops and there is a faceoff somewhere in the neutral zone.  In the defensive zone, you are free to do what you want as long as you don’t enclose your hand on the puck.  Fair enough.

I don’t see anything wrong with this rule the way it is right now.  Apparently, some GM’s don’t like it.  I get how it’s unfair on the faceoff – the defending center can lock up the opposing stick and use his hand to play it to a teammate.  If they wanted to take that part out, I would be okay with that.  But I like the fact that if a player loses his stick, he can still participate in the play.  If anything, there shouldn’t be a penalty called – just a whistle.  Make it so the defending players can’t change?  I guess I’ll live with that (which is what also should be the punishment for a puck over the glass – NOT a two minute penalty).  So, I guess I don’t see a reason for this rule, but I hope if it is ever put in place, they don’t put a penalty in.

There you go – my thoughts on the possible rule changes from the GM meetings.  You know the drill – comment or yell at me on Twitter.  Also, if you can figure out how the Wings can score on the power play, please, tell them.  If you yell at your TV really loudly, they can hear you!

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