Sunday, October 26th, 2014

The New NHL

9

According to Darren Dreger, NHL GMs will be discussing whether or not removing the red line was good for player safety and even whether the decision to eliminate the two line offside has improved the game. Greg Wyshynyski, while worried about the safety issue, thinks that it has been a good rule, and is afraid that removing it will invite even more suffocating defense.

I would like to see a more comprehensive review of all the changes that were implemented following the lockout. It is pretty obvious that the most important objective – to increase offense – has not been achieved. Anyway, let’s look at all the changes, starting with the Puck Daddy issue:

1) No Red Line:

This was the one thing I did support among the package of new rules, despite the fact that Pat Quinn predicted the downside to the change. Defensemen can effectively ice the puck. They hammer the puck out and a forward posted near the opponent’s blue line tips the puck in. While the new rule does produce the occasional extra odd man rush, it does not produce extra offense probably because clearing the defensive zone is easier.

The puck does zip back and forth faster, but at its worst, it can resemble a game of pong. I no longer have a strong opinion on this one. My tipping point is probably safety. Perhaps it is time to slow down the game to make it safer. I would not oppose reinstating the red line.

2) The new standards of enforcement: Daniel Wagner points out that that referrees are calling far fewer hooking, holding and interference penalties these days. The league – and some observers – insist that nothing has changed in terms of the rule interpretation. Players have adjusted, some people say.

I doubt that. All this change has accomplished over the years is more inconsistent officiating but I don’t know what the league can do about it now. From where I am sitting, the standards have been relaxed and will continue to be relaxed over the coming years.

One reason I think the league is prepared to allow obstruction to creep back into the game is that aside from the goals from the extra penalties, an obstruction free game did not create more scoring. It turned out that interference didn’t help the offense any more than it helped defense. Eliminating hooking and holding might allow a Pavel Datsyuk dance in the offensive end, but it also allowed defenders to more easily get to loose pucks and turn them the other way. If there is one thing to be learned from the entire package is that it is very hard to tilt the game toward more offense.

3) The Shootout:

I still hate it. I hate it more now than when it was first implemented. I think some NHL games should end up as ties. Some of the most memorable games are ties. No shootout is ever memorable.

I would be able to stomach this change better if they had also delivered up three points for a win in regulation. My biggest objections to the shootout are a) teams stop trying to score with about ten minutes to go in a tie game and b) giving the winner of a shootout an extra point is a travesty.

Either dump the shootout entirely, or go to a 3-2-1 point system.

4 ) The Trapezoid:

This was a stupid rule then and it is a stupid rule now. It has done nothing to increase offense and it has made playing defense more dangerous for no good reason.

Dump it.

5) No Player Changes Permitted by Teams who Ice the Puck

I saw this as merely another gimmick, but I think it’s worked out pretty well. I’d keep this rule change.

6) Over the Glass Penalty

I’d prefer to leave delay of game as a judgment call. The punishment far exceeds the crime. Why not apply the icing sanction if the concern is teams deliberately stopping play to get a change?

7) Tag up on Offside Plays

I like the fact it keeps the game moving, but I don’t like the dump it in, dump it out fest that can sometimes develop and I don’t think we should make it easier to play defense in the neutral zone. I think this probably hurts offenses and helps defenses. Is that what we want?

Either way, I think the impact has been pretty marginal.

Goals increased initially in the “new NHL” – mostly because of increased power plays – but have since steadily fallen. Team scoring isn’t far from it was in 2003-04. It is also obvious that, for better or worse, the game is faster and has more flow. There are fewer whistles. The extra speed has probably made the game somewhat more dangerous. Whether that adds up to a better, more entertaining product is in the eye of the beholder.

Mostly, though, the new NHL looks a lot like the old one.

Be Sociable, Share!

Comments

9 Responses to “The New NHL”
  1. IffyB50 says:

    Since there are not urgent matters affecting the globe at this time, allow me to express my concerns about hockey. The game to this 55 year old habitual fan is but a remote grotesque mutation of the thrilling spectacle I once knew. Reference to the NFB’s Blades in Brass – Habs/Bruins playoffs of the ’70s – Gretzky’s Oilers – Bossy’s Islanders, and you have my point. NFL on ice? No thanks. But that’s where it’s headed. One thing people forget, the TV timeouts constipated the game. One other thing, some smart scribe at the time the new rinks were all being built said that if the ice didn’t expand, then the expanding size and performance envelope of the players, the genetically modified superplayers as they have become, would crowd the standard sized ice like gorillas in a phone booth. What would happen if we took away plastic and metal from everything but the skates? No TV timeouts. Bigger ice. Flattened the stick blades? But the world’s problems would still continue, however, at least hockey once more would be distracting enough for the fan to ignore them awhile.

  2. Bryon says:

    @IffB50

    I agree wholeheartedly about the tv-timeouts. They kill momentum and reduce the emotion in the game by inserting arbitrary breaks into the flow of the game. They also reduce the impact of coaching and depth, as each team now gets what are essentially 3 free time-outs per period in order to regroup & rest. Soccer, the world’s most popular sport, doesn’t interrupt their games for commercials. So why does hockey?

    • beingbobbyorr says:

      They also reduce the impact of coaching . . .

      I’d like to reduce the impact of coaching in all major league sports. Let the coaches have their way & do their teaching at practice, but on gamedays, let the players figure it out. I suspect that might open up some creativity.

      Soccer, the world’s most popular sport, doesn’t interrupt their games for commercials. So why does hockey?

      Correlation is not causation.

      There are myriad reasons why soccer is #1 around the world (not least of which is that it’s uber-cheap, and most of the world is poor). The chances that it’s TV timeout policy is a critical factor to that success is low.

      Likewise, the NFL is the #1 sport in America. Should the NHL (in pursuit of NFL-like ratings) adopt it’s policy have having the clock run during stoppages in play, such that game action only lasts 11-14 minutes?

  3. beingbobbyorr says:

    4 ) The Trapezoid . . . . This was a stupid rule then and it is a stupid rule now. It has done nothing to increase offense and it has made playing defense more dangerous for no good reason.

    The trapezoid was designed to reduce the amount of time the puck spends in the neutral zone (where good stick-skilled goalies could fire it, pre-lockout). Whether ‘offense’ occurs thereafter (inside either blue line) was up to other rule changes (or penalty-calling rates). Let’s not go misjudging a rule change against the wrong criteria. It was meant to attenuate Turco & Brodeur’s skills, not add to top-6 forwards’.

    Agreed that the ensuing puck-chases increase injury likelihood. How predictable would this have been if the NHL understood . . . .

    http://www.econlib.org/library/Enc/UnintendedConsequences.html

    . . . . or at least tried each rule change one-at-a-time for a year or two in the AHL & ECHL first?

  4. Tom says:

    Let’s not go misjudging a rule change against the wrong criteria. It was meant to attenuate Turco & Brodeur’s skills, not add to top-6 forwards’.

    This is true, but it is also semantics. Goalies like Turco helped the defense. Preventing them from helping the defense was supposed to help offense.

    I agree that the rules should have been better tested and they should have been introduced one at a time so the impact of each change could be seen.

  5. Thomas Pratt says:

    My main concern regards the standard of officiating. Certainly you make a fair point about how a lack of hooking and holding frees up defenders as well as forwards. But in the specific case of the Sedins, I think more hooking and holding will hurt their game more than almost any other set of players. Their cycle can now be pretty easily disrupted.

    Coming out of the lockout the league made a big deal about how standards of officiating have changed. Perhaps the enforcement was inconsistent, but the general goal was clear. This season the league has seemingly changed officiating standards with no explanation and in the middle of the season. It doesn’t matter whether it’s because the league wants to limit speed to reduce injury and concussion, whether they want another tool to enforce artificial parity, or whether the officials are just by their nature inconsistent. What matters to me is that Mike Gillis constructed a team thinking one set of rules would be called, and that those rules aren’t being consistently applied. Isn’t that why that one reason they added Kassian as their prize prospect? Because they know the game in the West is changing?

    • Thomas Pratt says:

      I should have finished m thought. Gillis built the team last summer, assuming a certain standard of officiating. Now that the standard is changing, I can’t help but wonder if he would have built it the same way. It seems beyond bush league that such a change could occur without warning in the middle of a season, and without the league even admitting it.

    • Tom says:

      My main concern regards the standard of officiating. Certainly you make a fair point about how a lack of hooking and holding frees up defenders as well as forwards.

      I think it is pretty clear that the end result of all the changes was a different looking version of the same thing. There is more speed – and even more room – but there isn’t more scoring because teams changed the defensive tactics. To me, the game looks more European. It’s fairly easy to control the puck around the outside, but it is very difficult to get the puck to a prime scoring area with five defenders collapsing into a knot covering the prime scoring area.

      I just think the whole thing has been a circuitous route back to the same set of problems. Entire periods without a good scoring chance.

      I’m not sure that I buy the idea that Gillis structured his team assuming a different enforcement level. I was shocked by the standards set out in the SCF and I agree that they advantaged the Bruins. Still Gillis made the choices he made. I don’t think he is happy with what is happening, but he can’t be that surprised. I don’t think he would change any of his decisions.

Trackbacks

Check out what others are saying about this post...
  1. [...] CANUCKS CORNER: Tom Benjamin reviews the notable rule changes implemented in the NHL under the current CBA, and doesn’t see much improvement in the product. [...]



Speak Your Mind

Tell us what you're thinking...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!