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Should the NHL get rid of the trapezoid and enforce icing on penalty killers?

Aug 16, 2010, 3:00 PM EDT

brodeurandthetrapezoid.jpgWhile casual fans probably don’t really bat an eye at the league’s post-lockout “trapezoid rule,” it’s something that bothers purists for sure. For those of you who aren’t aware, before the lockout a goalie had much more freedom to play the puck (and therefore hamper an opposing team’s dump-and-chase game). In hopes of increasing scoring, the NHL decided to pass a rule that would charge a team with a two-minute delay of game penalty if their goalie handled the puck outside of that dreaded trapezoid behind the red line.

Ken Campbell makes a passionate argument against the trapezoid for The Hockey News. Here is his argument in a nutshell (click on the link to read his well-reasoned thoughts in greater depth).

Well, we’ve had five full seasons with the trapezoid and while it might have been a concern in the pre-lockout NHL, the game has changed so much and the flow of play has so greatly improved that the league could easily abolish the trapezoid and allow goalies to play the puck with impunity without compromising offensive chances.

I agree with Campbell, but again, I don’t think this is a subject that should create much debate. The rule change that Campbell brought up late in the column, however, has my Nerdy Hockey Spider Sense tingling as if I had a whole bottle of Denorex on my scalp.

Another one I’ve never been able to figure out is why teams are allowed to ice the puck with impunity when killing a penalty. First, you give a team a disadvantage for breaking the rules, then you allow it to break the rules again to mitigate the disadvantage it faced for breaking the rules in the first place.

Here are a couple of remedies: One would be to abolish the free-pass icing when killing a penalty and, just to make it more interesting, retain the rule that doesn’t allow the team that iced the puck to make a player change during the stoppage in play. That way you’d have four tired penalty-killers taking a faceoff in their own end. Another would be to allow each team a pre-determined number of icings per period, let’s say three. The first three icings would not be called, but each one after that would result in a defensive-zone faceoff, even on a penalty kill.

Sound crazy? Well, it’s no more outlandish than establishing a small, defined area in which goaltenders are allowed to play the puck.

penaltykilling.jpgOK, I’m not a fan of his “three icings per period” addendum, but the no free-pass icing on the penalty kill idea smells like mad scientist genius to me.

After all, why should a team be given extra rights after committing a penalty? For the record, I’m one of those people who wants sports games to be played the same way at all times. Not only am I against the shootout, but I’d also rather see overtime be 5-on-5 during the regular season. (Of course, I have some more bold ideas about giving teams more incentive to play hard all game long, but that’s a whole other discussion.)

I mean, can you really give me a good reason why icing is allowed on penalty kills … aside from making things easier for teams down a man? Imagine how much more interesting it would be if an opposing team had to get to the middle of the ice before they dumped the puck on the kill? It would make it easier for the powerplay team to retain the puck and make opposing teams “earn” every killed penalty.

If the league was bold enough to do away with the trapezoid and make that icing change, it would signify – to me at least- a subtle nudge away from dump and chase strategies. That, to me, would make hockey that much more appealing for casual fans who need to witness the beautiful skill this sport often exhibits.

With these rule changes in mind, I thought I’d ask you folks out there. Would you like to see either one of these rules changed? Vote in the two polls below. (Yup, that’s right, two of them.)



  1. jkrdevil - Aug 16, 2010 at 3:32 PM

    Teams are allowed to ice the puck on a penalty kill because they are going to do it anyway and thus enforcing it would really slow the game done.
    Think about it if you are the PK team and you are under a bit of pressure killing of the PP aren’t you in that situation going to ice the puck when you get a chance and take the faceoff. A team probably has a better chance to gain control of the the draw than chasing the puck around the zone.

  2. David - Aug 16, 2010 at 5:50 PM

    While I would not mind penalizing a penalty kill icing, I could live with the rule, except at the end of a game. Occasionally, you have a situation with a team down by a goal late, and they pull their goalie to put pressure on the other side. If the other side ices the puck, there is a face-off back in their end. But if the other side also has a man off for a penalty (thus playing 6 players vs. 4 players and a goalie), then they can ice the puck with impunity. After watching this scenario a number of times, I think the team with the late lead is better off with the penalty then without the penalty. The bottom line is, anytime you are better off breaking the rules, there is a problem and the rule needs to be fixed.

  3. dw - Aug 16, 2010 at 6:16 PM

    maybe we should take a page out of college hockey, I believe that while they try to kill a penalty the defensive team has to advance the puck over the blue line and then are able to dump the puck into the attackers zone, this is just one idea that just might work and please let’s get rid of the trapazoid it’s hindered some of the better skating and puck handling goalies.

  4. NYRFTW - Aug 16, 2010 at 8:14 PM

    It’s a terrible idea to not let a team ice the puck when killing a penalty. Why not just play with soccer goals without goalies? Have you ever played hockey in your life? Even thinking that this would be a good idea tells me that you haven’t. Games would become 3+ hours long!
    The only thing the trapezoid is good for is getting D hurt when they have to come back to play the puck when it’s sitting next to the trapezoid, but not in it. Watch the Ovechkin hit last year and that will give you a good idea what it’s good for, which is nothing.
    I do like the idea of soccer nets with no goalies and 3 pointers if the puck is shot from the other side of the red line. Games can be 100-99, just like the NBA. I’m sure this would drive up ticket sales around the league. You might like this idea the enough to pass it along to Shanny, who all of a sudden thinks he has some good ideas to make the league beter!

  5. Anonymous - Aug 16, 2010 at 9:18 PM

    i think your crazy soccer nets? why not play on grass then

  6. robert - Aug 16, 2010 at 10:57 PM

    The ability to ice the puck on the PK makes the PP more exciting.
    It can be deflating and cause momentum shifts when the PP unit can’t enter the zone or get set-up, and it can tense waiting and hoping the PK (if it’s your team) will clear the puck down.
    I don’t know if power plays would be nearly as interesting or entertaining without it.

  7. MPA - Aug 17, 2010 at 9:34 AM

    Not enforcing icing on the PK was definitely necessary in the days when you were allowed to make line changes on icing calls because it would have allowed tired defenders an easy change (especially in the 2nd period). Now that line changes are denied to the icing team I’d love to see it always enforced. Defenders would still ice the puck at times so games would be a little longer, but I think the additional scoring chances that an offensive zone draw against a tired PK until could provide would be worth it.

  8. | - Aug 21, 2010 at 1:08 PM

    All you people who think you should give an advantage to a penalized team are morons. There would be more scoring (which is what the fans want), it would make penalties more costly and therefore clean up the game, (which is what the players want) and it would change the overall strategies of hockey. Ya, it might make the games a little longer but all of you that think it will add 30+ minutes to each game are the ones that got failing grades at math. 5-10 minutes tops in the first season and less when players start clueing in.
    I think hockey could use a few more goals a game. I am tired of these 1-0 or 2-1 games. Fans love to see scoring…PERIOD. Especially in markets where the game hasn’t been accepted fully…give the fans what they want.

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