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New Rules Announced for NHL 2014-15 Season

New Rules Announced for NHL 2014-15 Season
A rink makeover and harsher penalties highlight NHL rule changes for 2014-15.

Yesterday the NHL announced a few rule changes for the 2014-15 season that ranged everywhere from the rink to the shootout to face-offs. Looking through the rules, many of them focus on incidents or issues that players, coaches and fans have complained about over the years and wanted changed in some way, while also showing the NHL is looking to make the game safer and will not tolerate players taking advantage of obscurities in old rules.

Before those rules are discussed, though, there are some changes to the ice that people might notice come October. The goalkeeper’s restricted area trapezoid will be expanded by two feet from the goal post on both sides of the net. This will give goalies more space behind the net to play the puck, which could be beneficial for goalies that are more comfortable controlling the puck but it can also lead them to stray too far away from the net which could lead to some pretty exciting and dramatic plays. The other rink change the NHL decided make was to move the hash marks at the end zone circles from three feet apart to the international markings of five feet, seven inches. Another housekeeping item they tended to was teams switching sides during overtime, having a “dry scrape” of the ice and that coaches no longer have to tell the referees who their three shooters in the shootout will be.

Now for the big changes, like the new game misconduct category that involves clipping, charging, elbowing, interference, kneeing, head-butting and butt-ending. These penalties, which used to be two minute minor penalties, have now been moved to a category as egregious as boarding or checking from behind. So if a player receives two such penalties in a game, he will be automatically suspended. These changes, along with revising the tripping rule so that a minor is given to a player who dives at an attacking player regardless of whether or not he makes contact with the puck, shows that the NHL is not only looking to improve their game for their fans, but for their players.

The fans don’t like seeing a player get taken off on one leg after a knee on knee hit or get up groggy after an elbow to the face and see the player at fault only sit two minutes in the box, and the players of course are against getting injured and sidelined for what could be months while the penalized party only gets “sidelined” for two minutes. Increasing the severity of these penalties not only makes the team penalized suffer more, but it will also make players a lot more careful on the ice, which could lead to less injuries on such plays because they will happen less.

The NHL also thought it would be a good idea to crack down on players and teams that bend the rules a bit. They decided to finally put a rule in place during icings that would limit a team’s ability to purposely get thrown out of the faceoff circle to give their tired players a few extra seconds of rest. They will be issued a warning on their first violation in the game, but any time after that they will be given a two minute bench minor penalty. The league also has decided to make divers pay for their actions, literally, by issuing fines for players who are caught embellishing in a game. The first time is just a warning, but then players will be fined $2,000 their second offense, $3,000 their third, $4,000 their fourth and $5,000 from their fifth incident on, and coaches will start getting fined $2,000 on the fourth offense by a player on their team all the way up to $5,000 by the seventh offense and above.

Nothing is more annoying than seeing a player dive and get away with it or watching a team purposely mess up on the faceoff in order to get a few extra breaths after an icing. The NHL needed to do something to show they wouldn’t tolerate things like that in the league, and hopefully these rules do just that. The icing rule should make the game go quicker and actually give an advantage to the team that touched up on the icing, and it will also hopefully begin the removal of diving and embellishment from the games.

All these rules seem like they will only help the NHL grow as a league. So what if spin-o-rama’s are no longer showcased in shootouts and penalty shots; at least players will be safer now that penalties like elbowing and charging can cost a player much more than two minutes in the box, which will cause players to second guess their decisions. It also makes rules that used to be able to be bent now cost a player and his team much more than it did previously. It will be interesting to see how the players and the league adjust to these rules, but quite frankly I just can’t wait for the season to start again.