By now I'm sure you've heard about the rule changes instituted by the NHL Tuesday night. My Bridge Club couldn't stop talking about it.
The league insists these are simply minor tweaks meant to improve the quality and entertainment value of the game. Basically the same justification they used for putting chimps in the score clock.
In case you missed the complete three-hour televised press conference, here's a detailed recap:
In regards to stick measurements in the shootout:
The Referee will quickly and efficiently measure the first shooter from each team during the scrape and that player will be on the ice beside his bench.
The NHL is very cunning in its insistence on measuring the player and not the player's stick. Internal studies have shown players over 6-foot-5 are 40 per cent more likely to steal cable while players under 5-foot-8 tend to pad their resumes. By understanding the base root of crime you're more likely to weed out the true culprits. Clever. Almost CSI clever.
Also, kudos to the NHL for demanding speed and efficiency from their officials. The NBA has quick refs who lack efficiency while NFL refs are efficient but are terribly slow. Major League umps are just plain fat.
Before the second player in the shootout is allowed to proceed to take his shot by the linesman, the referee will measure the third shooter's stick. This procedure of measuring the next shooter's stick shall continue to the conclusion of the shootout.
This is where it starts to get tricky. In essence they want the referees one step ahead in the shootout. They don't want a delay in the spectacle, nor do they want officials chasing unmeasured players to the net. By alternating like this, fans at one end of the building will see the dramatic one-on-one while fans at the other will be treated to a man in a striped shirt brandishing a protractor (Go Obtuse Angle!).
Of course these rules are all predicated on the player taking a shot. If he chooses to deke, evidently he can bypass a lot of red tape.
If a shooter's stick is found to be illegal, that player will be disqualified from shooting and the coach will promptly and efficiently designate a replacement shooter. This replacement may be a player from the three players submitted (if they have not shot) or any other skater on the team.
Illegal is a very broad term. I would presume they're talking about an unsuitable blade curve, but perhaps it may involve working underage or without the proper documentation.
It's also interesting that the league wants their referees to be Â“quickÂ”, but are okay with their coaches simply being Â“promptÂ”. That would beg the question, if a referee were to race a coachÂ…
More fine printÂ…
If a team receives three disqualifications for illegal sticks, the third disqualification will result in that team forfeiting one shooting opportunity in that game.
Lucky Loophole No. 4: You can have as many illegal sticks as you like provided your players deke during their breakaway chance. If they do choose to shoot, they forfeit a shooting opportunity and their salad bar privileges.
Onto the sticky Pucks Out of Play Penalty (proposed by Pyrotechnics Professor Peter Pendergrass of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania):
It was determined by the General Managers that, regarding Rule 51(a) (NOTE 1), delaying the game for shooting the puck out of play from the defensive zone: a puck shot out of play will now be judged by the route the puck leaves the playing surface, not the final destination. The four on-ice officials can converse to get the correct call on where the puck left the playing surface.
If you know the route the puck left the building you're more likely to be able to determine its whereabouts. If it deflected off the glass, it's likely in the upper deck. If it left by hovercraft, check the nearest ocean.
Giving the four on-ice officials the autonomy to converse is also a big step in the right direction. Previously only two were allowed to converse while the others were forced to use crude hand signals or muted grunts.
Officials are also free to back their convictions with a healthy wager. The winning participant gets to keep the others' whistles for the duration of the game or until they are fairly won back Â“promptly and efficientlyÂ”, I mean, Â“quicklyÂ”.
Charlie Teljeur, creator of THN's hockeysockpuppettheatre, brings you Loose Change every Tuesday and Thursday, only on thehockeynews.com.
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