Breaking down the NHL competition committee's rules recommendations

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A look at the major rule recommendations that the NHL competition committee brought forth to the league on Tuesday. (Photo by Glenn James/NHLI via Getty Images)
A look at the major rule recommendations that the NHL competition committee brought forth to the league on Tuesday. (Photo by Glenn James/NHLI via Getty Images)

An NHLPA competition committee including players such as Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers, John Tavares of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Connor Hellebuyck of the Winnipeg Jets recommended a few rule changes to the NHL on Tuesday.

Speaking to a group that included Craig Leipold, the owner of the Minnesota Wild, Oilers general manager Ken Holland and Steve Yzerman, the general manager of the Detroit Red Wings, among others, the competition committee brought forth a total of six recommendations.

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If any of them receive the approval of both the NHLPA’s Executive Board and the NHL’s Board of Governors, “the language of the rules will be formalized,” according to the media release sent out by the NHL and NHLPA on the topic.

Here’s a look at some of the major ideas proposed that could have some minor, but interesting ramifications on the future of the game.

Expanded Video Review/Coach’s Challenge

This is probably the biggest recommendation that was tabled by the NHLPA. Players want to give a referee the “ability to review some of his own calls on the ice.”

Based on how the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs have shaken out, this one appears to be a no-brainer. While some individuals within the hockey world have voiced their concern about slowing down the game further with additional video reviews that could damage the entertainment value of the product, having games end in controversy because of incorrect calls has to be avoided if officials have the tools to get it right.

Do fans really want wrong calls on plays like this to completely shift the outcome of a series-deciding game down the road?

Or missed hand passes helping end crucial postseason contests?

The answer has to be ‘no’.

Face-off Procedure Changes/Line Changes

When looking from a tactical standpoint of the game, this small recommendation has me very excited. It proposes that following icings and at the beginning of power plays, “the offensive team will have the choice of which end-zone dot the face-off will take place.”

It would be a subtle adjustment, but one that could lead to additional scoring. Every NHL centre has a side they’d rather take their draws on. Whether it’s based on which way they shoot or who they’re lined up against, giving the offensive side the choice (and subsequent advantage) will more likely result in a faceoff win and more pucks in the back of the net.

This rule could result in players putting in extra practice to become experts on one side of the ice in order to set up specific plays while on the man advantage. Overall, it’s an idea that could lead to more chances and excitement, two things the league is always chasing.

Furthermore, this recommendation suggests that if the actions of a skater on the defensive team cause a stoppage by unintentionally knocking the net off, the defensive team will not be allowed to change — much like when a squad ices the puck.

It’s another little change that slaps teams on the wrist for interrupting the flow of the game by having their tired legs stuck on the ice to face off against opponents that are fresh. For the single reason that it may result in more offence, I’m a fan.

Helmets Off During Play

For the sake of safety, proposing a rule that requires “a player to leave the ice in the event his helmet comes off during play” makes complete sense.

However, that means we’d no longer witness epic, sans-bucket sequences such as Torey Krug’s enormous hit on Robert Thomas during Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final.

You can’t have it all, I guess.

Puck Out of Bounds

Of all the recommendations brought forward, this is the one that has me a little confused. The committee wants to see faceoffs after the puck goes off the attacking team and out of play occur in the attacking zone.

In the past, these draws would be moved to the neutral zone, just outside of the defensive team’s zone. With the way the rules are now, the NHL wants to deter offensive players from shooting the puck out of play when in their opponents’ zone. While it would be strange that the consequence for knocking the puck out of play when in the attacking zone would no longer exist, the potential for this rule to create additional offensive opportunities in a league fuelled by goals makes it understandable.

Along with these four potential adjustments, the competition committee also announced minor suggestions having to do with goalies unnecessarily freezing the puck and regular season tiebreakers.

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