National Hockey League revamps overtime rules to increase scoring ahead of upcoming season
Last Thursday, the National Hockey League announced several rule changes for the 2014 to 2015 season.
The league’s Board of Governors and the National Hockey League Players’ Association approved the changes this summer.
According to the analysis released on the league’s website the same day, many of these changes were implemented with the intention of creating more scoring chances.
The goalkeeper’s trapezoid along the goal line has now been increased from 18 to 22 feet. According to the analysis, the change could potentially increase turnover goals. However, the chance that goaltenders would take advantage of this increased area to leave the net except in extenuating circumstances seems slim. It is more likely that goaltenders will allow skaters to bring the puck back into play and that coaches will also advise their goaltenders to do so. The increased area, however, could allow for goaltenders to clear the puck should the defensive line not make it back into the team’s zone in time.
Broader discretion has now been afforded to Hockey Operations to assist the referees in determining whether or not a play under video review resulted in a goal.
Adding to decisions regarding “good goals,” from this point forward, a distinct kicking motion will have to be more evident to disallow kicked in goals.
If video review is not clear as to whether the puck was intentionally or accidentally kicked in, Hockey Operations will lean toward counting the goal.
In contrast, in shootouts or penalty shots, the “spin-o-rama” move has now been deemed illegal.
The maneuver essentially occurs when a player spins around in front of the goaltender to put the puck behind him and score.
In terms of new defensive limitations, diving to knock the puck away from an attacking player will result in a minor penalty, regardless of whether or not the defending player touches the puck first.
Stricter penalties and fines will also be put in place for serial offenders who injure opponents.
In the past, such plays were allowed if the defending player touched the puck first.
Clipping, charging, elbowing, interference, kneeing, head-butting and butt-ending will now be categorized as physical fouls. If a player commits two physical fouls, he will be suspended for one game.
Whether or not the league will differentiate between intentional and unintentional offenses is unclear, so the fact that these have been recategorized could create controversy if players are consistently suspended.
In order to avoid shootouts as often as possible, some changes have additionally been made in rules for overtime play.
Teams will now switch ends and the ice will be resurfaced prior to the start of overtime to facilitate scoring.
In anticipation of teams actually completing the game in overtime as opposed to a shootout, the procedure requiring the head coach to submit a list of the first three shooters in the shootout has been eliminated.
Whether or not the shootout, which was implemented prior to the 2005 to 2006 season, is effective remains in question by most NHL analysts.
Perhaps further amends to the overtime policies to facilitate scoring would be beneficial to prevent multiple overtimes during regular season games.
Other changes that were made include changes to puck out of bounds rules and face-off locations, as well as not allowing players that commit delay violations to switch out of the circle, preventing players from purposely committing violations to give specific players time to rest. Should players commit more than one delay violation, the team could receive a two-minute penalty.