Every season the NHL looks to improve the quality and safety of play by implementing a series of rule changes, usually small tweaks. This season is no different as the league released 10 changes set to take effect when the puck drops on the 2014-15 season.
How will the changes affect the game as a whole? How will they affect the Arizona Coyotes?
Rule 1.8 - Rink - Goalkeeper's Restricted Area
The trapezoid will be expanded by two feet from the goal post on both sides of the net.
*Cut to Mike Smith dancing in the street with a party hat on*
The expansion of the trapezoid will give more room for puck-playing goalies like Smith to work with behind the net. The 32-year-old acts like a third defenseman as he often clears the puck on a penalty kill or makes a breakout pass to a backchecking defenseman. However, this also gives goalies who do not excel at playing the puck more room for disastrous error.
Rule 23 - Game Misconduct Penalties
A new Game Misconduct category will be created. Clipping, charging, elbowing, interference, kneeing, head-butting and butt-ending move from the general category into the same category as boarding and checking from behind ("Physical Fouls"), whereby a player who incurs two such game misconducts in this category would now be automatically suspended for one game.
A solid rule change with player safety in mind. Injuring a player by elbowing, kneeing, charging, etc. should be treated the same as injuring a player by boarding. Coyotes players Shane Doan (elbowing) and Martin Hanzal (charging) have been suspended in the past for infractions now being moved into the "Physical Fouls" category and need to avoid those dangerous hits in the future.
Rule 24 - Penalty Shot
The 'Spin-O-Rama' move, as described in Section 24.2 of the 2013-14 NHL Rule Book, will no longer be permitted either in Penalty Shot situations or in the Shootout.
Coyotes fans are thrilled that they will no longer have to see this.
Rule 38 - Video Goal Judge
Video review will be expanded in the following areas:
* Rule 38.4 (viii) has been modified to allow broader discretion to Hockey Operations to assist the referees in determining the legitimacy of all potential goals (e.g., to ensure they are "good hockey goals"). The revised Rule will allow Hockey Operations to correct a broader array of situations where video review clearly establishes that a "goal" or "no goal" call on the ice has been made in error. The new expanded rule will also allow Hockey Operations to provide guidance to referees on goal and potential goal plays where the referee has blown his whistle (or intended to blow his whistle) after having lost sight of the puck.
* In reviewing "Kicked in Goals," Hockey Operations will require more demonstrable video evidence of a "distinct kicking motion" in order to overrule a "goal" call on the ice, or to uphold a "no goal" call on the ice.
Getting the call right is the most important thing and anything that helps get the call right is a positive. Expanded video review is one of those things and should be used to the fullest extent. Raising the "distinct kicking motion" threshold is another positive change as officials must be absolutely sure a goal was scored illegally to take it off the board.
Rule 57 - Tripping
The rule relating to "Tripping" will be revised to specifically provide that a two minute minor penalty will be assessed when a defending player "dives" and trips an attacking player with his body/arm/shoulder, regardless of whether the defending player is able to make initial contact with the puck.
But, in situations where a penalty shot might otherwise be appropriate, if the defending player "dives" and touches the puck first (before the trip), no penalty shot will be awarded. (In such cases, the resulting penalty will be limited to a two-minute minor penalty for tripping.)
One might chalk this up to player safety, but there is an offensive component as well. While fewer players will collide in an attempt to make a desperation poke check, this rule change will slightly increase power play opportunities as well as allowing more attacking players to enter the zone or get a breakaway uncontested.
Part two of this rule is a bit deflating as the thought of more penalty shots would certainly make things more exciting.
Rule 64 - Diving / Embellishment
The supplementary discipline penalties associated with Rule 64.3 (Diving/Embellishment) will be revised to bring attention to and more seriously penalize players (and teams) who repeatedly dive and embellish in an attempt to draw penalties. Fines will be assessed to players and head coaches on a graduated scale outlined below.
Incident # Player Fine(s) Head Coach Fine(s) 1 Warning N/A 2 $2,000 N/A 3 $3,000 N/A 4 $4,000 $2,000 5 $5,000 $3,000 6 $5,000 $4,000 7 $5,000 $5,000 8 $5,000 $5,000
Rule 76 - Face-offs
To curb delay tactics on face-offs after icing infractions, in situations where the defending team is guilty of a face-off violation, following an icing, the defending player who is initially lined up for the face-off will be given a warning, but will be required to remain in the circle to take the face-off. A second face-off violation by the defending team in such situation will result in a two minute minor bench penalty.
This is simple. Icing the puck has consequences and those consequences should not be lessened by gamesmanship tactics such as attempting to be thrown out of the faceoff circle. One has to wonder what happens if both players are thrown out in this instance. Does the team guilty of icing still get to keep their center in to take the faceoff?
Rule 84 - Overtime
* Teams will switch ends prior to the start of overtime in the regular season.
* The entire ice surface will undergo a "dry scrape" prior to the start of overtime in the regular season.
* The procedure requiring the head coach to submit a list of the first three shooters in the shoot-out has been eliminated.
A subtle move to help get more games decided in the five-minute overtime period. Making the teams switch sides means the OT period, just like the second period, will be a long change for defensemen. With benches closer to the offensive zone, forwards can sneak out at the attacking blueline as well. Harder for defensemen to get off the ice + forwards coming out near the offensive zone = more scoring chances.
Rule 85 - Puck Out of Bounds
There have been further rule changes made relating to face-off location to avoid penalizing teams for plays intended to create bona fide scoring opportunities. Specifically, the following are "categories of plays" where face-offs will remain in the attacking zone despite the fact that the attacking team was technically responsible for the stoppage in play: Shots at the net by a player on the attacking team where: (i) the shot breaks the glass; (ii) the shot goes off the side of the net and deflects out of play; (iii) the shot goes off the dasher boards or glass and deflects out of play; (iv) the shot is tipped or deflected out of play by a teammate; and (v) the shot becomes wedged in or on the exterior of the goal net.
In addition, the following rule change will be enacted for the 2014 preseason and may be continued for the 2014/15 regular season if approved by the League and the NHLPA.
A subtle change that will really help good possession teams. If approved, there will be more ways for the puck to stay in the offensive zone for the attacking team. Shots off the net or off a teammate that go out of play but keep the puck in the offensive zone are a major benefit to aggressive teams that frequently put the puck on net.
Rule 1.9 - Rink - Face-off Spots and Circles - Ice Markings/Hash Marks
The hash marks at the end zone circles will be moved from three feet apart to five feet, seven inches apart (international markings).
Players will now be positioned farther away on faceoffs. A little less fighting for territory, a little less delay in getting play started.
So what do you think? Do you like the new rule changes? Think they got it wrong? Tell us why in the comments!