RALEIGH, N.C. – The National Hockey League (NHL) announced on Thursday a series of rules changes for the 2014-15 season, following approval earlier in the summer by the League’s Board of Governors and the National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA).
For local fans, taking a more in-depth look at each of the changes should help to alleviate confusion that would take place otherwise when taking in Carolina Hurricanes games this year.
In addition, the healthy debate that should follow amongst diehards on the pros and cons of each of these changes will only stir more of the energy and excitement that is ready to spill over into another hockey season in the Triangle.
2014-15 NHL rules changes – links to specifics and highlights included
The trapezoid will be expanded by two feet from the goal post on both sides of the net.
Discussion: This means that Hurricanes netminders Cam Ward and Anton Khudobin will have a little more space, not much more, to venture out of their crease and help keep the puck moving – or not.
Rule 23 – Game Misconduct Penalties
A new Game Misconduct category will be created. Clipping, charging, elbowing, interference, kneeing, head-butting and butt-ending move from the general category into the same category as boarding and checking from behind (“Physical Fouls”), whereby a player who incurs two such game misconducts in this category would now be automatically suspended for one game.
Discussion: This change further classifies the most egregious of player assaults on one another to create a group of players who’ll hear the ‘you did it once, don’t do it again, but if you do, you’re sittin’ for one’ lecture from the NHL’s overseers.
This shouldn’t be a problem for anyone on the Hurricanes roster – hopefully.
The ‘Spin-O-Rama’ move, as described in Section 24.2 of the 2013-14 NHL Rule Book, will no longer be permitted either in Penalty Shot situations or in the Shootout.
Discussion: No, Jeff Skinner and Alexander Semin, you both definitely can’t even think of doing this ever again – except only during practices to annoy Ward and Khudobin accordingly.
Rule 38 – Video Goal Judge
Video review will be expanded in the following areas:
* Rule 38.4 (viii) has been modified to allow broader discretion to Hockey Operations to assist the referees in determining the legitimacy of all potential goals (e.g., to ensure they are “good hockey goals”). The revised Rule will allow Hockey Operations to correct a broader array of situations where video review clearly establishes that a “goal” or “no goal” call on the ice has been made in error. The new expanded rule will also allow Hockey Operations to provide guidance to referees on goal and potential goal plays where the referee has blown his whistle (or intended to blow his whistle) after having lost sight of the puck.
* In reviewing “Kicked in Goals,” Hockey Operations will require more demonstrable video evidence of a “distinct kicking motion” in order to overrule a “goal” call on the ice, or to uphold a “no goal” call on the ice.
Discussion: This one is for the thousands of assumed video judges in the arena and at home, including print/web media members and radio and television play-by-play announcers Chuck Kaiton and John Forslund, along with analyst Tripp Tracy.
Though the World Cup has passed, some fancy footwork disguised as inadvertent redirects will be allowed.
This rule change should provide the most confusion, as it usually does, amongst everyone, except the officials.
They can let the Video Goal Judge work behind the curtain to put everyone’s mind at ease.
Unless it’s a bicycle kick into the goal by the likes of Skinner – he’s got skills like that – we’ll see a lot more third and fourth liners posting career-goals scored numbers than years past.
This rule may be what head coach Bill Peters had in mind when he said he wants to get more production out of the bottom six of the lineup when possible.
The rule relating to “Tripping” will be revised to specifically provide that a two minute minor penalty will be assessed when a defending player “dives” and trips an attacking player with his body/arm/shoulder, regardless of whether the defending player is able to make initial contact with the puck.
But, in situations where a penalty shot might otherwise be appropriate, if the defending player “dives” and touches the puck first (before the trip), no penalty shot will be awarded. (In such cases, the resulting penalty will be limited to a two-minute minor penalty for tripping.)
Discussion: Sticking to the soccer theme, call this one the slide-tackle or dive-tackle rule.
Hurricanes defensemen Ron Hainsey, Brett Bellemore and Jay Harrison take note.
Touch the puck while wiping out the impending scorer and you’ve probably made the play of the game.
Otherwise, you’ll serve your time – just two minutes – while the other team’s player collects himself up off the ice and will think twice when cutting in so sharply from the corner again, or will listen closely for footsteps the next time he clears the blue line unopposed and thinking he’s got a chance to score.
Rule 64 – Diving / Embellishment
The supplementary discipline penalties associated with Rule 64.3 (Diving/Embellishment) will be revised to bring attention to and more seriously penalize players (and teams) who repeatedly dive and embellish in an attempt to draw penalties. Fines will be assessed to players and head coaches on a graduated scale outlined below.
Incident #/Player Fine(s)/Head Coach Fine(s)
Discussion: This rule change focuses on players who truly aspire to become actors.
Their performance(s) will be ruled on by the NHL’s critics and when deemed as horrible, will be penalized accordingly.
For those with deep pockets and who are able to finance their own productions more often than not, they’ll subsequently pay up, and if their coaches don’t do something about their shenanigans, they’ll also be charged fees after the third offense.
With Skinner and Semin apt to draw penalties, hopefully they won’t get called much for this.
Although, they do possess the coin to pay off such debts if so incurred.
It would probably be a safe bet that Peters won’t let that happen.
Rule 76 – Face-offs
To curb delay tactics on face-offs after icing infractions, in situations where the defending team is guilty of a face-off violation, following an icing, the defending player who is initially lined up for the face-off will be given a warning, but will be required to remain in the circle to take the face-off. A second face-off violation by the defending team in such situation will result in a two minute minor bench penalty.
Discussion: This could quickly become a very controversial rule change and the toughest for the league’s centers to adjust to, particularly if officials are diligent and call it from a truly black and white, as written, perspective.
Assistant coach Rod Brind’Amour will have to drill the Hurricanes centermen well for this one.
He may need to have them skate two or three consecutive lengths of the ice before dropping the puck each time to build up their endurance at practice.
Captain Eric Staal, nor brother Jordan will be able to catch their breath if they’re not ready for this one, especially when double-shifted as often as they are.
They won’t be able to delay with a faceoff violation (not that they always do), but this rule won’t work to their favor and push up their penalty minutes if they, nor the coaching staff, aren’t paying close attention to the situation.
This rule change will infuriate and frustrate many players, coaches, and fans alike.
Rule 84 – Overtime
* Teams will switch ends prior to the start of overtime in the regular season.
* The entire ice surface will undergo a “dry scrape” prior to the start of overtime in the regular season.
* The procedure requiring the head coach to submit a list of the first three shooters in the shoot-out has been eliminated.
Discussion: Looking at the Hurricanes’ overtime and shootout results last season and previously, any rules changes in this area are moot and don’t merit much time to review or even discuss.
It may too painful to do so since what’s done is done, finishing 28th overall (6-11) in that category.
There have been further rule changes made relating to face-off location to avoid penalizing teams for plays intended to create bona fide scoring opportunities. Specifically, the following are “categories of plays” where face-offs will remain in the attacking zone despite the fact that the attacking team was technically responsible for the stoppage in play: Shots at the net by a player on the attacking team where: (i) the shot breaks the glass; (ii) the shot goes off the side of the net and deflects out of play; (iii) the shot goes off the dasher boards or glass and deflects out of play; (iv) the shot is tipped or deflected out of play by a teammate; and (v) the shot becomes wedged in or on the exterior of the goal net.
Discussion: If you are thinking Carolina Hurricanes and this rule, you can only be thinking of Semin here.
Yes, Skinner, Eric Staal, and Nathan Gerbe were the only ones on the Carolina roster to take more shots than the Russian, but his misses, including many deflections out of play, elicit the most memory recall of any of those players.
If Semin can’t wire his wrist or snap shot into the top corner of the net, then sniping a shot off the cross-bar or zipping a pass off a teammate’s stick will at least give him and the Hurricanes a chance to face off in the offensive zone to do it over and over again throughout the game.
Also note that Zach Boychuk has been known to break some glass too, even if it was at the practice rink.
So, if it should happen at PNC Arena, it will work to the home team’s favor regardless.
This change will offer some reprieve for aspiring goal scorers on the Hurricanes roster who just miss the mark more often than they should.
Wait! There’s more!
In addition, the following rule change will be enacted for the 2014 preseason and may be continued for the 2014-15 regular season, if approved by the League and the NHLPA.
Rule 1.9 – Rink – Face-off Spots and Circles – Ice Markings/Hash Marks
The hash marks at the end zone circles will be moved from three feet apart to five feet, seven inches apart (international markings).
Discussion: Go ahead and just approve this one.
Play at the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) level already uses it.
If not enacted, the only big complaint that should arise will come from the ice tech staff at PNC Arena who will be cursing that they have to redo the lines in a short period of time before the regular season starts.