Interesting article on ESPN.com today about rules changes they'd propose across all sports. It got me thinking.
In their one rule on hockey, which is really five rules, they list:
#1 BAN ALL HEAD SHOTS.
Despite the recent ban on blindside hits, there's been no decrease in NHL concussions. Time to follow the lead of the International Ice Hockey Federation, which penalizes any head contact at all.
#2 INSTITUTE NO-TOUCH ICING.
Eliminating headlong races for first touch curbs colossal, end-board collisions between full-bore defensemen and forwards.
#3 DITCH THE TRAPEZOID.
If goaltenders can play the puck anywhere, and not just directly behind the net, D-men have to do less back-to-the-action puck retrieval, and thus are targets of fewer blindside hits.
#4 EXPAND THE ICE.
Increasing the playing surface to international dimensions (200 feet x 100 feet as opposed to 200 x 85) enhances the value of skilled players. But it also makes lumbering enforcers obsolete. Guys incapable of contributing with their gloves on will soon be out of the league. And, now, one more from these shores (okay, our office) ...
#5 MAKE MAJORS MATTER.
Players shouldn't have to subject themselves to concussions by fighting to keep pests in line. So how about this: For major penalties, the opposition selects which skater spends the five minutes in the box -- and the offending player has to stay on the ice for the first two minutes of the power play.
Suggestions #1, #2, and #3 aren't new to the casual hockey fan. I can get behind them, but, unfortunately, the "no head shot" rule will still be incredibly judgmental.
I haven't thought much about expanding the ice size. It would, perhaps, get us closer to the international game for the WC and Olympics, but it probably isn't feasible due to existing arena size and the lost revenue.
As far as #5, that's a bit radical for me. Plus, not distinguishing between fighting and other majors could be a problem. In their idea, if Matt Hendricks fights Eric Godard, then Crosby and Ovechkin sit? It also puts tremendous pressure on the refs. They know if they call a 4-minute high stick, the offender sits. If they call a 5-minute high stick, the superstar sits.
What do you all think and what rules might you change?
I like the notion of choosing between a power play or a penalty shot, when a penalty shot is called. I would like helmets to come off during fights and not taking them off to be a penalty. I would like the instigator call refined and called more. I'd like to distinguish in the rules between embellishing and diving. And - if you are diving, then the offender doesn't go to the box with you.
Lastly, I'd like to expand instant replay to cover all black-and-white calls that have an impact on the game. This would add goalie interference, off-sides, and too many men penalties, for example. I'd also like to add the coach's challenge. Calls that are judgmental, such as interference or boarding or charging, wouldn't be subject to instant replay.
(FYI - Wanting to respect the rules, I debated Fan Post vs. Fan Shot, and ended up here. My apologies if some of you feel this is more Fan Shot. It was on the border for me. You can disagree, but please don't call me "stupid.")