The New NHL Revisited

I’ve been neglecting the site, busy with other things but have wanted to get this posted since December.

After a little more time to digest the new NHL I am much more comfortable in providing my passing grade. Complaints still abound, but less frequent and vocal than before I find. These concerns can be discussed, and while those who like aspects of the old NHL or prefer it to the new NHL altogether may never change their mind, arguments for the new NHL may let them see the benefits to the game.

I have done no technical study, nor read any, comparing goals-per-game, average margin of victory, number of penalties, power play opportunities in the new NHL vs. the old. I also don’t watch every NHL game I can, or ever completely watch one. I can say in my impression goals are up without sacrificing low scoring games or shutouts. The scoreboard still reveals some 2-0 wins and other low scores. Goaltenders have not broken down and ended up in the nuthouse do to their inflated GAA‘s. While penalties have increased, they have dropped in my observation from the early season highs. All of these things make the game more entertaining.

Players seem to be adapting, defencemen don’t stand around as frequently looking lost because they can’t use physical abuse on players around the net. They have started to bring back the skill of playing the player as a means of defence, stick handling and legal methods being deployed. Criticism that mistakes are up or more prevalent requires the response, “Who cares?” All goals shouldn’t be looked upon as failures or mistakes but rather a good offensive series, play or effort. There will still be some goals, like there always has been, where a defenceman fails to perform his duties or a goaltender lets in a soft one, or a forward takes a night off and doesn’t back check. But the new rules didn’t make those things happen.

One rule change I haven’t warmed up to still is the restricted goaltender zone behind the net. It is contrary to the nature of the game and is an artificial rule, meaning it is only there to restrict activity of goaltenders which they have normally been able to do. Goaltender roaming used to be controlled by making goaltenders open to checking to the same extent of all other forwards when they were out of their crease. Injury concerns curtailed this rule, eliminating almost all contact on goaltenders, giving them free reign to leave their net with no repercussions. These concerns came from GM’s and coaches trying to protect their number one player at that position for which they do not have a competent backup. It was only perpetuated by goaltenders acting as if they took a sniper bullet from 100 yards at the slightest contact. I believe leaving them open to normal checking would make goaltenders think about leaving the net 50% of the time, and those that did would be taking a chance that they would not be able to avoid being contacted and therefore not returning to their net as quickly.

For the overtime/shootout format to work I believe that the points for the shootout loss should be eliminated. This is another rule created by the GM’s for their own interests. If their team goes 0-20 in the shootout, I say they don’t deserve those extra 20 points. If the shootout is the deciding factor, winner takes all. This will open up the standings a lot more between the weaker and stronger teams, rather than everybody being bunched together for the sake of competitiveness.

On the bubble for me is the no two-line pass rule. While it produces some exciting plays, sending players in alone a lot more, it still sits a little wrong with me when I see it in NHL play.

My other complaint is one I had originally when talking about rule changes, especially massive ones like were instituted this year. It can be very difficult to know what rules have been adapted by different leagues, and the youth programs so you are not sure what applies when you are watching any given hockey game. It is likely the elite leagues will standardize their rules with the NHL if they haven’t already done so, but I still will always wonder if this league allows goaltenders behind the net or has the two-line offside.

Hopefully those arguing (mostly coaches and NHL insiders) that the new rules have caused some major flaws in the game can see the benefits of the rules and work on tweaking the aspects that are lacking rather than reverting to the old comfortable rules. I don’t expect a reversal of rules from the NHL, but rather that they will forge ahead with these rules in future years with some tweaks, none of which relating to what I dislike about the new rules. The new NHL is here to stay.

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OC Jottings

No jottings in the last 7 days. Here is a random jotting.

  • December 9, 2006
    Ottawa Media Sour on Expansion, CFL, Palmer

    In correcting a story from Friday stating the Palmer group had dropped out of negotiations for an Ottawa CFL franchise, the Ottawa Sun slams the expansion process and the CFL for being too secretive, and Bill Palmer as too arrogant to work with the league according to their unnamed inside source.

    It still is a business and if the negotiations of expansion fees were public and the names of bidders made known you could be sure there would only be one bidder, Frank D’Angelo.

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