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Offseason Opinions: Rule Breakers

New Jersey Devils v Washington Capitals Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

Sure, we can chant “ref, you suck!” on a regular basis - and 100% mean it most of the time - but sometimes their hands are tied by a rulebook that has its twists, turns, and inexplicable entries. So with that in mind...

What is the worst rule in hockey?

Bryan: A bit of a chalk take here, but despite the league’s best efforts, the goaltender interference rule is still an absolute mess and needs to be re-written from scratch. The lack of consistency is one thing game-to-game or crew-to-crew, but the league does a terrible job at articulating the “why” or “why not” both on the ice and after the fact. It’s way more than a simple “sometimes it goes your way, sometimes it doesn’t” with this one – I don’t think there is a single person; player, coach, or fan; who wouldn’t appreciate some more clearly defined parameters that are easily applied, even if it means that players need to change the way they play in and around the crease.

To that end, fire “distinct kicking motion” directly into the sun.

Peerless: OK, so it lacks imagination, but I’m going with the offside rule that allows appeals to video confirmation in the event a goal is scored. Somehow, I don’t see a team having that much of an advantage if they were a foot offside, but offside is still offside. If a team still has possession a minute or so later, the team on defense unable to clear the puck, does that technical offside still carry weight? Does it still confer an advantage, or is the team on defense just inept in that instance?

I would not get rid of the rule in its entirety, but I would limit the appeal “window” to, say, 15 or 30 seconds after the alleged offside took place. If a team scores a goal within that window, and the scored upon team believes the scoring team was offside, they can appeal. Once the window has closed, though, no appeals would be permitted. The logistics of such a provision do not seem that complicated.

And play some defense, for crying out loud.

J.P.: I think Peerless has this one right, but instead of a window based on time, I’d say that the only way a goal is coming off the board is if the offside was the (or a) proximate cause of the goal. Yes, it’s subjective, but if the entire point of the rule is to prevent the attacking team from gaining an unfair advantage and that specific advantage disappears, why take a goal off the board? This league needs more scoring, not less, and certainly doesn’t need to be erasing tallies based on what amount to technicalities. But maybe they should get really crazy and eliminate offside altogether…

Luke: On the ice, I’ll go with a weird one since some might point out the obvious ones, but I hate it when someone plays a puck with a high stick or glove and the other team just sits around the puck not touching it so the play just stalls until the ref blows the whistle. There should be a 3 second rule, if the opposing team doesn’t touch it, then the team that used the high stick or glove get to play the puck. A close second is if you get your stick slashed out of your hand, if the stick doesn’t break, it shouldn’t be a slashing call (unless you hit the hands). Hold onto your damn stick!

Off the ice, a rule I would love to see is players hitting free agency at the age of 23 instead of 26 or 27 or whatever it is. Give control to players that don’t want to play for organizations a chance to thrive elsewhere. It would also make for more, bigger trades which is always fun. Imagine how fun a trade would be for Connor McDavid in his prime at 23.

Bryan: Oh, I hadn’t even thought about off-ice rules… does activating players on long-term injured reserve just in time for the playoffs, salary cap be damned count? Because that is so incredibly fishy and it grinds my gears when teams violate this rule with total impunity (please redact this answer if for whatever reason this happens with #19 this upcoming season!)

Okay, we’ve had our say. Now it’s your turn! Weigh in with your thoughts in the comments below.