Recently, the National Hockey League has made quite a few rule changes in order to “better” the game. Some of these rules include; hybrid icing, no tucking of jerseys into the pants, and an extra two minute penalty for taking your helmet off in a fight. Everyone of these rules has caused scrutiny for the League, and overall they are awful rule changes that have done nothing but cause problems.
The leagues previous ‘touch icing’ rule may have been dangerous when two players are rushing into the corner full speed from the other end of the ice. This is an issue that had to be addressed eventually, however changing it to hybrid icing is absolutely ridiculous. There has already been numerous instances throughout the league where the rule has caused problems. An example of this is when Jonathan Bernier of the Toronto Maple Leafs left a puck that he believed was going to be called icing (no-touch) and ended up rebounding off the boards, back out front and in the net. Don Cherry raises the point about this occurring later in the season when games, and seconds are crucial. This rule change should have been more definitive and left less on the shoulders of the referees.
Making the players keep their jerseys un-tucked is completely unnecessary. I could understand if it helped the referee’s identify players easier, however the players have their names on the back of their jerseys. Also, sometimes this is something that can’t be controlled. So a player is engaged in the play, and his jersey accidentally tucks in during a scrum in the corner, this player is now going to be assessed a penalty? or he will have to pull his jersey out mid-play? This makes no sense. What player is going to be focusing on his jersey while he is out on the ice. This will especially be problematic if players are being assessed ‘delay of game’ penalties in major situations in games that are actually meaningful. The only real reason I could see this being implemented into the league, is because the NHL is planning on putting advertisement on the jerseys, and is ensuring jersey tucks won’t effect this in the future.
Making it a penalty for removing your own helmet before a fight is the most understandable of the rule changes. They are trying to ensure that an incident such as the on on Dec. 21 2009 in the Senior A hockey league, where a player struck his head off the ice during a fight and ended up dying after being in a coma for 2 weeks. The only problem is that it has caused players throughout the league to both remove their helmets previous to the fight in order to offset the minor penalties they receive. This has become somewhat of a spectacle throughout the league and there have even been incidents where players have removed each others helmets before engaging in a fight.
Overall, the National Hockey League made poor rule change decisions this year. It is understandable to want to address issues in the game and to try and make the game better and safer, however they should be more careful when doing so.