The NHL GM meetings…

The NHL GM meetings are going on, and as usual, they’re considering rule changes.

It’s been a slow process, but it looks like hybrid icing is finally winning their approval.

NHL GMs express support for hybrid icing – The Globe and Mail:

Seven NHL general managers who discussed a change to the icing rule on Monday at their semi-annual meetings came away in unanimous agreement that the league should move to the type of hybrid icing now used in the NCAA and USHL.

The rule will now go to all 30 general managers over the course of the next two days and will need the support of two-thirds of them in order to be sent to the competition committee.

The idea of hybrid icing is to keep the chase to break up the icing call in the game, but in a way that removes some of the risk of the catastrophic injuries that have happened when that chase puts a player into the boards hard and fast. Think Marco Sturm, Kurtis Foster bad.

I’ve been generally supportive of the status quo, but the current proposed change makes sense, and seems to walk that compromise between doing nothing and going to full automatic icing, which bores the crap out of me in college and international hockey. So I support this change; and it’s another instance where I think the league should get some credit for taking the time to get it right when people around them are screaming for a fast “easy” decision that really isn’t.

The Brian Burke “bearhug” rule got shot down hard, again. The idea here is to allow some limited obstruction/holding in some specific situations to give defenseman an alternative to pinning a player to the boards like a bug, in hopes of limiting some of the injuries. I sympathize somewhat with Burke, but nobody seems convinced that’s the right solution — including me.

Darryl Reaugh brings up some of the other issues up before the GMs. I agree with much of what he says. But of course, not all..



1.) Elimination of the Redline Brett Hull was right. The worst, most anti-skill play in hockey, the one where a d-man slap-passes the puck to a forward just over center-ice and he angles his stick to tip the puck deep into the other end of the rink, is about 90% of what the decision to remove the redline has produced – and it suuuuuucccckkkkks.

I like the removal of the red line. there’s been discussion of putting it back to try to reduce some of the injuries we’ve seen with people flying down the ice and the inability to protect a defenseman against a physical forecheck. I don’t think the red line is the solution to that, just as nobody seems to think the bear hug is, either.

But the center-ice tip to clear the puck and avoid icing? Reaugh is right; it sucks, and it’s not helping the game. But don’t put the red line back in. Instead, force the player in center ice to take control of the puck. Use the same standards we use today for whistling down a delayed penalty. If the player doesn’t stop the puck and then shoot it down in a separate motion, then call icing on it. I definitely want to see this tip play pulled back out of the game, but I think the way to do it is to require a higher skill play to replace it, not simply put the red line back in.

2.) Trapezoidal Areas It never worked. Whoever came up with it didn’t understand geometry, or modern goaltenders, or game flow.

The Brodeur rule. And it’s time for it to go. But, we need a couple of other things here as well. One is that goalies outside the crease and behind the goal line aren’t eligible for the kind of “goalie interference” calls they get today. And they can’t be allowed to do the moving wall of goalie trick to wall off an opposing player — that should be called interference, just as it would be if a real skater tried it.

3.) Kicking Motion This needs to be rewritten to say, “…as long as the players skate never leaves the ice, good goal”

I have never liked the “distinct kicking motion” rule. it’s just too arbitrary, and it’s one of those things where you HAVE to let the war room in toronto decide. Oh, sorry. “situation room”. These kinds of situational things make it too ambiguous and open to criticism. I say, either you allow pucks going off the skates to count, or you don’t. I vote for “don’t”, but going one way or another is preferable to this “guessing intent” call.

4.) Illegal Hand Pass No one can explain to me why a hand pass should be allowed in the defensive zone only. Unless, the league secretly wants to aid defense and bridle offense, which I know isn’t the case

Yes, please.

6.) Overtime Necessary for playoffs, unnecessary for the regular season. For the first 82 lets just play 60 minutes for two points and then, if tied, go straight to a 5-man Shootout. Save some wear and tear, and save our fans from more intermissions and confusing standings.

I’m no great fan of the shoot-out, but yeah. let’s just go straight to it.

8.) Permitted Icing During Penalty Kills A team should be fully penalized for an infraction, not ‘partially’. You can’t ice it during even strength play so why permit it when you’ve done something delinquent?! Duh.

again, yes. after all, this league IS troubled by too much scoring, right? so let’s look for some simple ways to inhibit the defenders that won’t materially impact the game.


In other news, it’s good to see that according to the data, the number of concussions in the league has flattened out. The number of man games lost to concussions has gone up, but as much as anything, this is more about really starting to understand the implications of the concussion and being more strict and careful about letting players come back — more time off and being more paranoid about their health. That also, to me, is a really good thing to see, although for the players suffering (especially Chris Pronger, who may be done), it still sucks. That, however, is what they’re trying to deal with.  It seems we’re making progress here.