Looking at Changes
The NHL game is getting more defensive again, and that's something the NHL has to be looking at when it holds it's R and D session in Toronto this week.
But there's nothing on the agenda that's going to make much difference.
There seems to be an inordinate focus on icing, both the rule in general as it pertains to racing for the puck and the way in which it's allowed during shorthanded situation.
The first element is about danger. But the so-called "hybrid" rule would simply force officials to guess which player is going to win the race at the face-off dot, and I'm pretty much against any rule that forces more judgement calls. The most effective NHL rules changes in recent years have been the black-and-white ones. Players do very occasionally get injured on icing calls, and sometimes badly. But if reducing injuries is the goal, there are other areas that could be addressed with greater results.
What about forbidding penalized teams to ice the puck? I see the logic, except they'll likely ice it anyway, producing more whistles and more faceoffs. Icing the puck while penalty killing has long been part of the game, and a more skilful part than say, fighting.
Better to force the offending team to kill off the entire two minutes. However, the problem with anything that makes it tougher on shorthanded teams will almost certainly have the effect of motivating officials to call fewer penalties because minors will become more costly.
Quite frankly, there is no magic pill for the NHL right now. The game is generally excellent, and the biggest alteration in the ability of teams to score is the incredible amount of shot-blocking that takes place. But in the Cup final, the last hockey we saw, there were low-scoring games and high-scoring games. Goals were hardly a problem there.
So I'd expect nothing significant to come out of this week. That said, the attitude that everything is always worth looking at is admirable.