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5 interesting rules the NHL will test at the R&D Camp

Aug 10, 2011, 2:43 AM EDT

2010 NHL Research, Development and Orientation Camp Getty Images

For the second year in a row, Brendan Shanahan and his cohorts at the NHL league office will play with their own personal mad-science lab in Toronto next week. The league plans on testing out rules that have no chance of ever passing, rules that already should be in the league, and rules that are being tested just to appease a certain general manager in the area. Some of the rules are subtle changes that could have big-time effects on the game if implemented. Then there are other changes that will stick out like John Scott at a midget convention. Hopefully there won’t be any images like this one from last year’s R&D camp. That thing never had a chance.

James Mirtle over at The Globe and Mail took a look at some of the potential rule changes that caught his attention. In the same spirit, here are five of the rule changes that caught our eye:

1. Offside variation (offending team can’t change and face-off in its end zone)
Fans reactions to the dreaded offside call on a 3-2 odd-man rush would go from “how hard is it to stay onside” to the more dire “if they score on this faceoff, I’m going down to the locker room after the game to yell at so-and-so.” It’s understandable for the punitive measures taken to discourage icing, but this seems like an extreme measure to eliminate a play that is often caused by over-aggressiveness. If anything, this could discourage speed in the neutral zone and cause players to be more cautious when they’re on the attack. Isn’t that the exact opposite of what the league has been trying to promote?

2. ‘Hybrid’ icing
They might as well keep testing this rule until the GMs have the good sense of passing it into law. It’s clear that with the increased speed of today’s game (without obstruction) and without the help of goaltenders handling the puck, the most routine icing play has become dangerous for the defenseman chasing the loose puck. Watching international events that employ no-touch icing shows that there’s still a time and place for the end-zone chase. It’s frustrating to watch when an offensive player is clearly going to get to the puck first only to have the play blown dead. Hybrid icing brings the best of both worlds: it allows players to chase the puck, but protects defensemen in a vulnerable position.

3. Delayed penalty variation (offending team must exit zone in possession of puck to stop play)
This is a rule that has a ton of potential. The league has tried to implement rules that the offending team has had to control the puck (as opposed to just touching the puck) in recent years, but this takes the rule to the next level. It further rewards a team for pressuring their opponent, while not letting the offending team off the hook by simply grabbing the puck. Now, they’d have to do something with it. Depending how this rule is implemented in the R&D camp, it could be something the GMs take a strong look at down the road. One tweak might simply require the offending team to clear the zone—not necessarily with possession. Requiring a team to gain possession and skate the puck out of the zone might be asking a little too much. Firing it past the blue line should be enough.

4. Shallow-back nets
This is one of those rules that doesn’t seem like a big deal until you see it implemented on the ice. Last season, this was one of the more surprising suggestions because of the multiple advantages it creates for the offensive team in the attacking zone. Obviously, shallower nets allow for more space behind the net; for players who are always looking for time and space, any little bit helps. But surprisingly, it was the passing from behind the net that struck me as the biggest advantage to spring from the shallow nets. Without as much net obstructing play, there are better/different passing angles for creative passers to exploit from Gretzky’s Office. Back door plays and plays that go against the grain open up like never before.

5. All penalties to be served in their entirety
Talk about opening Pandora’s Box. Imagine a world where every 2-minute minor penalty is treated like a 5-minute major. The opposition can score as many times as possible; only after two minutes will the offending player finally be released from the box. Remember all of those questionable calls in the playoffs with accusations of diving? With so much more on the line, there’s a good chance diving would increase in direct proportion to scoring output. What about when a team takes a 2-minute penalty when they’re already on the penalty kill? Does that mean the team can score on the 2-man advantage as many times as possible? A simple delay of game call, or worse yet, a blown call on a nothing play, could change the entire complexion of any given game. If anything, the officials should be the ones who shoot this rule down.

What rules are you looking forward to seeing this summer? More importantly, which rules would you like to see implemented in the next few years? Let us know in the comments.

  1. derpdederpdederp - Aug 10, 2011 at 3:17 AM

    with the exception of no-touch icing these ideas are beyond idiotic. they make that picture you linked look like pure genious. in fact if Gary hadnt reduced space behind the net 6 years ago thered be no teason to consider smaller nets. that being said, these are such stupid ideas I would almost bank on Gary implementing one or all of these rules in hopes of improving a perfectly sound (or at least it was before the last batch of mindless rule changes) product….fucking idiot

  2. derpdederpdederp - Aug 10, 2011 at 3:20 AM

    and of course when I say teason I mean reason…my iPhone is stupid but it could run the NHL better than Gary whie its turned off

  3. derpdederpdederp - Aug 10, 2011 at 3:31 AM

    while*…fuck what a waste of 2 posts…edit button please

  4. greggink - Aug 10, 2011 at 8:08 AM

    If they eliminate fighting, I eliminate myself from attending games.

    • derpdederpdederp - Aug 10, 2011 at 1:39 PM

      typical American hockey fan. the last thing I wanna see is fighting removed but it doesnt make or break the game for real fans. that being said, it is part of the game, sometimes entertaining, and its not to be messed with

    • sanjosecupcrazy - Aug 10, 2011 at 6:05 PM

      I wouldn’t stop watching, but I’d be horribly disappointed. Eliminating fighting would cater to the people who don’t really follow hockey. You never see fans at a game disgusted over a fight. Further, getting rid of fighting opens up Pandora’s Box as it relates to players taking liberties without fear of retribution. Just a bad idea all around….. but the first time someone is seriously injured (or killed) in a fight, it’ll be gone faster than a cupcake at a fat camp.

      • derpdederpdederp - Aug 10, 2011 at 6:13 PM

        agreed, my post wasnt worded that well but I think you get it. fighting isnt essential to most fans and its ban certainly wouldnt make them stop watching hockey but it would definitely be a disappointment. its part of the game but not the only part. it should stay that way

      • derpdederpdederp - Aug 10, 2011 at 6:15 PM

        and Im not sure if you know or not but an amateur league player was killed as the result of falling on his head during a fight. very tragic stuff, but I dont recall even his family demonize fightings place in hockey. like you said, its the people who dont understand the game that want it out…bleeding-heart media types mostly

      • sanjosecupcrazy - Aug 10, 2011 at 6:24 PM

        Totally agree. Knowing Bettman, he’ll make the dumb move at some point. He and Bud Selig should have both been thrown out years ago.

      • derpdederpdederp - Aug 10, 2011 at 9:27 PM

        no question. there have been 2 labour disputes under Bettmans watch that saw 1 season cut short and another completely lost. most people who are that bad at their job dont keep it for almost 20 years

      • icelovinbrotha215 - Aug 11, 2011 at 1:46 AM

        Fighting is what keeps the fair-weather fans around. Playoff hockey is the best hockey you’ll see all year and there is NO fighting. The problem is that you can’t have that same intensity for an 82-game schedule. I do agree with you that fighting does help for the players to ‘police’ the game. If someone wants to take a run at your goalie, he will have to worry about someone dropping the gloves with him. I don’t mind fighting, but its not the reason why I watch. I’m probably in the minority but I’m use to that haha. Fighting is part of the game and shouldn’t go anywhere.

  5. comeonnowguys - Aug 10, 2011 at 9:45 AM

    No-touch icing I can get on board with.

    Offsides rule is as the writer points out counterproductive to what the league is trying to do.

    So if these rules are carried through, the team that commits the penalty:

    a) has to play a man down until clear it past the blue line, and THEN
    b) has to serve the entire penalty even if the other team scores?

    Man, all it takes a nice dive or a bad call to completely change the course of a game over nothing. This doesn’t sound very well-thought-out. Which is why it will probably happen.

  6. hockeyfan1701 - Aug 10, 2011 at 1:24 PM

    I understand why they came up with no touch icing (someone died in Europe) but it is hard to watch.

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