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Beyond The Boards

THE NHL IS GOING CAMPING

Monday, 08.15.2011 / 3:27 PM
By Kevin Snow - Sabres.com (@kwsnow) / BEYOND THE BOARDS
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BEYOND THE BOARDS
THE NHL IS GOING CAMPING
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The Sabres are trailing Pittsburgh 3-1 late in the third period, and Sidney Crosby gets called for hooking. During the delayed call, Thomas Vanek rifles home a slapshot to get the Sabres within one. With Crosby now in the box for hooking, Buffalo scores 30 seconds into the man advantage to tie the game. Then with seconds ticking off Crosby’s penalty, Ville Leino bangs home a rebound in the slot and suddenly the Sabres are up 4-3. 

Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? But that’s one of the rule scenarios being presented at the NHL’s second annual Research, Development and Orientation Camp this Wednesday and Thursday in Toronto. More than 30 of the top prospects eligible for the 2012 NHL Draft will scrimmage under the proposed rule changes, new strategies and rink modifications in a setting that closely approximates NHL game play. The players will also participate in a SuperSkills competition using the same events that were introduced at the 2011 All-Star Weekend in Carolina, as the NHL continues to evaluate the “entertainment factor” of its showcase weekend.

Included among the proposed changes scheduled to be tested over the two-day camp are: no-touch icing; no line changes for team committing an offside; all penalties served in their entirety; variations on the shootout; removing the trapezoid; and allowing hand passes in all zones. The league will also look at some other technological and rink modifications, including on-ice wireless communication between the referees, and additional cameras in arenas to allow for better television coverage with angles closer to the ice.

Of all the changes being presented, I’m most intrigued by having penalties served in their entirety. - Kevin Snow
 While I’ve always been in favor of no-touch icing simply from the standpoint of keeping the game moving, forcing a team to play shorthanded for the entire two minutes is just the kind of instant offensive injection the league has been looking for.

As the rule stands now, a goal scored during a delayed penalty call nullifies the power play. Under the proposed change, a team can score during the delayed call AND still have two full minutes of power play time. Some would argue this change would only be beneficial to teams with strong power plays. You can also look at it this way (as I was reminded earlier today): teams that don’t score as often on the power play are still given two full minutes with an extra attacker.

Serving the full two minutes of a penalty previously existed in the NHL, but was amended prior to the 1956-57 season. It was dubbed the “Montreal Canadiens Rule” by hockey historians because of the team’s proficiency on the power play, and their ability to score more than once on the same penalty.

As detailed by Iain Fyffe of Hockey Prospectus, the Canadiens scored nine extra power play goals in the 1955-56 season, while only one team managed to score twice on the same power play against Montreal. It is widely believed that the events of November 5, 1955 are what prompted many people to call for the rule change.

Boston had a 2-0 lead on Montreal at the end of the first period. Already down a man thanks to a Cal Gardner minor with 10 seconds left in the first, Boston’s Hal Laycoe gave Montreal a 5-on-3 advantage with another penalty just 16 seconds into the second period. What followed was nothing short of remarkable. Montreal’s Jean Beliveau scored a natural hat trick in just 44 seconds as the Canadiens turned a two-goal deficit into a one-goal lead during a single power play. Beliveau added a fourth goal later in the game to cap off a 4-2 win. Later that year the NHL voted 5-1 in favor of changing the rule – with Montreal naturally being the only dissenting vote.

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