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NHL To Test Rule Changes At R&D Camp

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Photo by Matthew Manor/Getty Images
Photo by Matthew Manor/Getty Images
Getty Images

Over the past few days, we've linked to a few stories about the NHL's Research, Development, and Orientation Camp which starts tomorrow. The camp will test many different rule mutations during Wednesday and Thursday practices, some minor and some radical, a full list of which can be found here.

However, rather than just talk about what they'll be doing at this camp, we thought it would be fun to pull out some of the more interesting or realistic changes to see which ones you guys and gals like best. So let's try something here: we'll highlight a few of the more fun, crazy, or realistic rule changes below, and if you could only make one of these changes, let us know which one you'd make in the comments.

Icing:

We have both no-touch icing and hybrid icing to choose from in this category. No-touch icing is what they use in international play, some lower-level junior leagues, and most amateur leagues: as soon as the puck crosses the goal line, icing is called immediately, regardless of who will touch the puck first.

Hybrid icing leaves the decision up to the official - if it's obvious the defending player will get there first, the official can immediately call icing just like with the no-touch rule, but if it looks like the offensive player has a shot to win the race to the puck then the official can decide to let them race for it. Here's a good article on hybrid icing if you want to read more about its implications for the game of hockey. Both changes will keep players safer by eliminating dangerous races to the boards, and will also speed up the overall time it takes to play a game by a very small amount.

Overtime:

The NHL will be testing a three minute long 3-on-3 overtime period which would follow a four minute long 4-on-4 overtime period if the game is still tied. It might eliminate a bit of the "let's play for the shootout" mentality that usually makes up the final few minutes of overtime.

Shootout:

Another change the league is considering is to change the shootout, either by making it five shooters per side instead of three, allowing players who've already shot to shoot again if it's still tied, or both. Do you want more shootout?

Penalties:

There are two interesting ideas being tested regarding penalties: the first is that the offending team must serve the entirety of their penalty time, regardless of whether or not a goal is scored against them, thus allowing multiple goals to be scored on the same power play and reversing the "Montreal Canadiens rule." Another experiment being tested is that the penalty killing team would not be allowed to ice the puck free-of-charge; every icing on the PK would bring the puck back into the offending team's zone. Both would certainly lead to more power play goals, but would these changes be too radical?

Line Changes:

There are two line change mutations that I think could be very interesting. The craziest one being that, except for after a goal and before manpower changes, teams would only be allowed to change on the fly; it would mean no changes before a faceoff, thus eliminating (in many situations) the home ice advantage of having the final change. The other line change, um, change would be that there would be no line changing privileges for a team that commits an offside.

Those are my choices for most interesting or feasible changes, but feel free to include another that you think is important if I missed anything. And remember, try to limit yourself to one change that you'd make if you were the overlord of the NHL for a day, for discussion purposes.