Guest Author - Kevin Thorburn
As everyone prepares for an actual season of hockey beginning tonight, 5 October 2005, expect to see a few changes as you watch your favourite team. This is a review of most of the new rules for the league.
The shootout: If after regulation, the game is tied the five minute overtime period will follow. If, after that, it remains tied there will be a shootout to decide the game’s winner. How will it work? Each team will take three shots. Should the score still be tied after the three shots, the shootout will continue in a sudden death format until a winner is declared. What we can expect: To start with, a change in the categories for team standings. Gone is the tie category and remaining will be wins, loses and overtime or shootout loses (OL). This format will prove exciting for most fans to watch, but it is a poor way to decide a game. One lucky or unlucky bounce can now cost your team a point. It may not sound like much, but those points will add up quickly for many teams.
Two-line passes: The centre red line is now virtually eliminated and gone is the two-line offside pass. What we can expect: A mix of a few exciting break-away passes and a few bonehead pass attempts up the middle of the ice. This was a change that did not need to be made either.
Goalie equipment: This has been a contentious issue among players. There is now an approximate reduction in maximum size of goalie equipment of 11 percent. Leg pads, blocker, upper body protector and the jersey have been reduced in size. If a goaltender is caught using over-sized equipment, the result will be a two game suspension, a $25,000 fine for the team and a $1,000 fine for the trainer. What we can expect: Perhaps a slight increase in goals over the year. We definitely won’t expect to see a comeback from retirement by Patrick Roy with these changes.
Now, a few more of the rule changes in brief: a limit to the area goalies are allowed to play the puck; a larger offensive zone; a supposedly strict enforcement on players committing interference, holding or hooking and obstruction penalties; a penalty for delay of game to any player who intentionally shoots the puck over the glass to stop play.
Okay, will the game be any better for these changes? Old school hockey fans would say, “No.” Who’s to argue with the old school fan?