A handful of rule changes have been proposed by the NHL’s Competition Committee, which met today in Toronto. All proposed changes will go before the league’s Board of Governors and the NHLPA Executive Board for final approval.
Here’s what’s on the table for the league to consider adopting for the 2019-20 season:
Expanded Video Review/Coach’s Challenge: The Committee recommends changes to the Coach’s Challenge and expanded video review, including as it relates to a Referee’s ability to review some of his own calls on the ice. Recommendations will be prepared for the League’s Board of Governors, General Managers and the NHLPA’s Executive Board.
This one, like video review itself, is a veritable Pandora’s Box. How much does the league allow to be up for review? As The Athletic’s Sean McIndoe discussed, let’s hope it doesn’t include judgment calls. It is interesting that they specifically call out the referee’s ability to review his own calls on the ice. After taking Coach’s Challenges out of the on-ice officials’ hands and giving the Situation Room the final say, it’s possible we see a shift — or an expansion to allow refs to review match penalties, as is done in the NCAA.
Hard to say much until we hear the specifics.
Helmets Off During Play: The Committee recommends work on a rule construct for implementation next season that would reasonably require a player to leave the ice in the event his helmet comes off during play.
A safety concern, and one that’s already in place in other leagues. For a league that has enough concerns with hits to the head, this is an easy fix to avoid a hit to a helmetless player. Tighten up those chin straps, boys.
Goalies Unnecessarily Freezing Puck: The Committee recommends that the defensive team not be permitted a line change when a goalie freezes the puck on any shot from outside the center red line. The offensive team will have the choice of which end zone dot the face-off will take place.
Hey, 67.3 already has the rarely-if-ever-enforced: “A goalkeeper who holds the puck with his hands for longer than three seconds shall be given a minor penalty unless he is actually being checked by an opponent.” This change treats it like an icing, which is good motivation for a goalie to move the puck — especially if your team needs a change.
Face-off Procedure Changes/Line Changes: The Committee recommends:
i) that following an icing, the offensive team will have the choice of which end zone dot the face-off will take place.
ii) To begin a power-play, the offensive team will have the choice of which end-zone dot the face-off will take place.
iii) That no line change be permitted for the defending team if, in the judgement of the Official, the actions of a skater of the defensive team caused the stoppage by unintentionally knocking the net off. The offensive team will have the choice of which end-zone dot the face-off will take place.
Okay team, pick your dot. Obviously, this favors the offensive team who’s looking to take advantage of their center’s handedness, or to position a shooter for a one-timer. Ovechkin approves.
That third rule basically results in treating a dislodged net like an icing. Fine. Now, go back and do that for puck over glass while you’re at it.
Puck Out of Bounds: The Committee recommends that when the attacking team is responsible for the puck going out of play in the attacking zone, all face-offs will be conducted at one of the two face-off dots in the attacking zone.
The current rulebook calls for a faceoff in the neutral zone when the attacking team is responsible for the puck going out of play, unless it was from a shot on goal that deflects out of play or gets wedged behind the net. This minor tweak helps keep the offense in the offensive zone for errant dump-ins or passes that deflect over the glass.
Regular Season Tie-breakers: The Committee recommends adoption of a proposal that would modify existing regular season tie-breaking procedures and adding additional criteria.
When we first saw ‘tie-breaker’ we thought they meant the shootout. Then we came to our senses. Okay, sure, let’s clear up how the tied teams will be ranked. The current approach is as follows:
- The fewer number of games played (i.e., superior points percentage).
- The greater number of games won, excluding games won in the Shootout. This figure is reflected in the ROW column.
- The greater number of points earned in games between the tied clubs. If two clubs are tied, and have not played an equal number of home games against each other, points earned in the first game played in the city that had the extra game shall not be included. If more than two clubs are tied, the higher percentage of available points earned in games among those clubs, and not including any “odd” games, shall be used to determine the standing.
- The greater differential between goals for and against for the entire regular season. NOTE: In standings a victory in a shootout counts as one goal for, while a shootout loss counts as one goal against
The first two will likely remain the same. After that, have at it!
It’s interesting to note that the Competition Committee is made up of players, owners, and general managers. No current or former officials are included in the conversation when it comes to making changes to the rulebook.
Representing the NHLPA were John Tavares and Ron Hainsey of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid, Winnipeg’s Connor Hellebuyck, and James van Riemsdyk of the Philadelphia Flyers. The NHL was represented by Minnesota Wild owner Craig Leipold and general managers Ken Holland (Edmonton Oilers), David Poile (Nashville Predators), Doug Wilson (San Jose Sharks), and Steve Yzerman (Detroit Red Wings). Not a zebra in the bunch.
Worth mentioning is that – while the referees and linesmen don’t get a formal say in the process – the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the officials and the league expires this summer. With negotiations taking place, one has to imagine that the stripes will want a say in some of these changes going forward, If they have to enforce the rules, it’s only fair to include them in their creation and modification. Let’s hope they get a seat at the table.