The NHL approved several rule changes for the 2014-15 season, including making the spin-o-rama move illegal in shootouts and penalty shots, expanding the trapezoid, having teams switch sides before the overtime period, expanding video review and penalizing repeat diving/embellishment offenders.
Katie Strang and Scott Burnside discuss how this will impact the game.
STRANG: Well, the NHL finally got the needed stamp of approval to impose some anticipated rule changes for the 2014-15 season. Most notable among those new rules? The spin-o-rama is no longer allowed, either in a shootout or a penalty shot situation -- a rule change made to the delight of goaltenders and hockey purists everywhere. While I'll admit I'm not a huge fan of the move in general, because of the ambiguity about the actual stop-start-change in direction, I'm not sure fans feel the same. Really hoping Peter DeBoer didn't give that out as offseason homework for his shootout-challenged club.
I imagine among the most well-received changes will be those pertaining to the overtime period, with the teams now forced to switch ends before the start of the overtime period and the institution of a "dry scrape" of the ice before that period begins. This limits any complaints of a geographical advantage for teams battling for that critical extra point (seems like a no-brainer).
My favorite of these changes, however, is the enforcement of fines for repeat offenders of the diving/embellishment rule. Not only does the NHL level financial penalties against those who frequently employ such theatrics, it also holds the head coach culpable. Imagine Player A incurring his fourth diving call, which costs him $4,000 and his head coach a cool $2,000. That could make for some awfully interesting in-game exchanges on the bench. The league actually aims to use shame as the biggest weapon of all, however, publicly releasing the fines for each player. Will it make a difference? We'll see.
BURNSIDE: Katie, I’m with you on the diving/embellishment fines, although as usual when it comes to issues of monetary discipline in the league, it does seem woefully puny doesn’t it? I know it’s a different beast than dangerous plays that result in supplementary discipline, but something that might provide a little more of a pinch would have been better in my books. That said, I agree that shining a brighter light on these guys is a welcome move. How many times -- especially in the playoffs where the stakes are so high -- did we see guys jerk their heads back as though they’d taken a haymaker from Muhammad Ali when replays showed there wasn’t any contact at all? That’s not hockey, folks.
The one I like is the expansion of the trapezoid where the goaltender can play the puck. It’s a small thing, expanding it by two feet on each side of the goalpost, but a step in the right direction. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this lead to the removal of the trapezoid altogether in the not-too-distant future. The fewer lines on the ice to confuse fans the better.
STRANG: Agree, Scotty on two counts. (1) Holy moly, I cannot remember a time when the diving and embellishment appeared to be more prevalent than the 2014 NHL playoffs. I thought it was particularly pronounced in the Eastern Conference finals between the Montreal Canadiens and New York Rangers. (2) This might not be a big enough dent on the wallets to make a significant impact. Look at the supposed deterrent effect from the whopping financial penalties incurred from those sorts of dangerous hits that draw the ire of the league's disciplinary arm, and we haven't seen it having much of an effect, have we? So maybe this is a good starting step and the league can re-evaluate moving forward.
One rule I am particularly skeptical of is the expanded video review for "kicked in goals." While I like providing the league increased discretion in assisting the on-ice referees to determine these all-important scoring plays, I don't see how the part about a "distinct kicking motion" becomes any more clear. The threshold to overturn seems to be higher now, but I feel like the problem last season was the lack of consistency about what constituted a "distinct kicking motion." Still feels to me like there is too much room for interpretation.
BURNSIDE: We talked about this when the rule modifications were first discussed by GMs coming out of their meetings during the Stanley Cup finals and it looked like there was little appetite to expand video review. Now it looks like the league has had a change of heart and will give hockey operations more latitude to help referees on the ice make the right call. For instance, the famous Detroit goal that hit the netting behind the Los Angeles goal and then was counted during the regular season would be nixed with the help of video review. What is going to be even more interesting is that the NHL will also do an internal review of calls like offsides and goaltender interference, which aren’t currently subject to video review, and see how often the calls are correct and how it might in theory start to correct those calls if there was a decision down the road to employ broader video review throughout the game. Look for the GMs to discuss the findings of the hockey ops people on this matter at their annual meetings in March.