If you have been following hockey at all this year you might have realized the game has changed in some ways.
Players are traded, signed as free agents, and young players make their way into the league every year. However, in the NHL rules haven’t changed much since the lockout in 2004. This year, the NHL and the NHL Players Association (NHLPA) along with the Rules Committee agreed to change a handful of rules.
The new hybrid-icing rule is at the top of this list. For as long as we have been alive, we have only ever seen touch-up icing in the NHL and automatic icing during international play.
This rule simply states, that instead of racing and touching the puck, the players will race to the end zone faceoff dots. If the defenseman wins the race, it is icing; if the forward wins, the game continues. This rule was put into place for player-safety reasons. Too many players were getting hurt, running into the wall and getting checked when racing for icing calls.
The second rule change in the league is just as much for player safety as hybrid-icing. The NHLPA is working hard to clean up the game as much as it can, without fully taking away any aspects of the game.
The new helmet rules are in place for this reason.
The first part of the rule states that any player with less than 25 games of experience in the NHL is required to wear a half-visor on his helmet. The second part of the rule states that when two players engage in a fight, they are no longer allowed to take their helmets off. If the helmet is taken off, it is a two-minute penalty on top of the five minutes for fighting.
An interesting side note regarding the rule is that in several instances, two players involved in a fight have agreed to take off their helmets before starting to brawl. The new rule is in place so that if a player falls during the fight, his head is protected from hitting the ice directly.
The top changes in the NHL are the nets becoming shallower, the goalie pads getting smaller and the new tuck rule.
How long will they be in effect? With the league experimenting with rules every summer at rookie camps and trying new things to improve the game, no one really knows. However, the NHL is trying to make the game safer, while still keeping the excitement of hockey.