The NCAA's Ice Hockey Rules Committee met last month in the hockey hotbed of San Antonio to discuss rule changes for the upcoming seasons. The NCAA's liason to the meeting, Ty Halpin reported on the meeting for USCHO.
One of the big issues that committee looked at again was checking from behind. Apparently, there were proposals to create an intermediate penalty for less severe checking from behind infractions, like I've been suggesting. Those proposals were shot down, however, and the rule will stay the same as it was last year.
Committee chair Enrico Blasi said "If we decided to lessen the penalty in this area, it would be sending a mixed message to officials and alter much of the progress we have made in this area."
So what exactly is the message that is being sent with the way things are now? Anyone who watched the third period of the national title game and saw Peter Harrold only get a two minute boarding penalty for an ugly hit from behind knows what the message is. The message is: "Do whatever you can not to call a checking from behind penalty because it has too much of an effect on the game." That's not progress being made. That's the way things were prior to last season. So basically they ruined a half season of hockey by forcing officials to make some assinine checking from behind calls, and all we got out of it was a reminder of why that penalty was never called in the first place.
There were some other interesting changes made to the game. Among them, as expected, the NCAA chose to adopt the NHL's pad size restrictions for goalies. It will be interesting to see if that affects scoring. Scoring was up in the NHL this past season, some evidence seems to indicate that was just because there were so many more powerplays with the new rules. I still like the change though.
Another interesting change is that leagues can use a 2-referee/2 linesman system. It will be optional until the 2008-2009 season, but I think the major conferences will try to utilize this. I'm not sure how much it will help though. Most of the problems with officiating aren't because an official is out of position or doesn't see a play. The real problem is in the consistency of what is and isn't a penalty. An extra official on the ice probably won't help that.
The Committee also proposed two experimental rules, which could be used in conference play, but will likely only be used in exhibitions. The first is the NHL's rule about not being allowed to change after icing the puck. I really like this rule. I think it takes away most of the advantage of doing something against the rules. The other rule is that a team that is shorthanded is not allowed to ice the puck. I'm not as big a fan of this rule. That almost gives the team on the powerplay too much of an advantage.
The final part of the Committee's meeting discussed potential rule changes for the future. They won't be on the table until the rules committee meets to discuss changes for the 2008-2009 season.
One of the biggest ones on the list is the elimination of ties. They don't have any specific suggestions on what they plan on doing, but one that they mention is the possibility of ending games with a shootout. I do think that would be exciting, though I would hope that the outcome of the shootouts wouldn't have too big of an impact on standings and computer rankings.
The other big one is a proposal to eliminate one-piece sticks. They said, "These types of sticks break frequently and the committee is concerned that this creates potentially dangerous situations on the ice."
Ok, sure. More like a potentially dangerous situation with the budget. I guess you can't blame teams though. I remember reading that St. Cloud State forward Matt Hendricks went through $4000 in sticks his senior year. At the same time, I think you'd have a hard time telling kids they can't use sticks that they could use in any other league.