NHL Testing Potential New Rules at RDO Camp

Each year, the NHL holds a camp at the MasterCard Centre for Hockey Excellence to test out some potential rule chances and additions to the game, using the upcoming draft class as guinea pigs. This year, no-touch and hybrid icings, 3-on-3 overtime and the elimination of the trapezoid zones will all be put to the test.

“I think there is some interest the way the game has evolved just seeing exactly how the players would adapt to some of the older rules like that,” said Brendan Shanahan, the NHL’s Senior Vice President of Player Safety and Hockey Operations, told NHL.com in regards to eliminating the trapezoid that was introduced following the 2005 lockout.

In terms of a hybrid or no-touch icing, Shanahan said the he, nor the league, is completely sold on the idea that the current system is broken, although the league is always looking to improve the game and the safety of its players.

“It’s not necessarily broken right now, but it has raised a lot of concerns in hockey and we’re looking at idea to make it better,” said Shanahan. “I personally would like to see the hybrid more. I think it has strengths and some real weaknesses as well. We’re also testing no-touch icing, which is another option as well if we ever felt we needed to make a chance.”

The league has tested some pretty bizarre ideas since the camp was created in 2005. Last season, the league tested three end-zone face-off dots, with the third being added in the center of the rink in addition to the two traditional side-dots. That, however, didn’t last long.

“We tested it. We didn’t like it,” said Shanahan. “It’s not occupying the airwaves or taking up time in the General Managers’ meetings any longer. I don’t know how those rules or those adjustments will be received in those few days, but we may learn something.”

A subtle but possibly big change to the game would be the ability of referees to use headsets throughout the game to communicate together while the play is going on, something which was berthed from an idea last year involving an off-ice official.

“We tested having one referee standing off the ice last year and the feedback we got from the refs was they didn’t like it,” said Shanahan, “but born out of that was the idea of the referees communicating through a headset, which they thought was a real positive.”

Although there is some excitement to an icing race, I’m in favor of the no-touch icing. As a Ranger fan, I’d rather not lose a key defenseman who is racing down for a puck and loses an edge and misses time with an injury all for the excitement of meaningless race. I’m all in for eliminating the trapezoid. I’ve never felt it helps the game, but rather complicates it more for a casual fan as it’s just one more line on the ice they have to understand what it does.

Here is a list of other ideas that will be tested next week when the camp begins in Etobicoke, Ont.:

  • No-touch icing/ hybrid icing
  • No line change for a team who commits an offside (similar to an icing)
  • Faceoff variations (penalty line for center committing an infraction; all face-offs in circles’ same linesman drops puck for all faceoffs)
  • No icing permitted while shorthanded (not sure what this one means)
  • Verification line (additional line behind the goal line) (again, not sure what this means)
  • Overtime variation of four minutes of 4-on-4 followed by three minutes of 3-on-3 (too complicated)
  • 5-man shootout rather than 3-man (I’m into this)
  • Shallow-back nets (rumored to create more scoring chances from behind the net)
  • After offside, faceoff goes back to offending team zone (NO!)
  • Faceoff variations where both centers must come set on whistle
  • Delayed penalty variations where the offending team must exit zone in possession of puck to stop play (pointless)
  • Changes only permitted on-the-fly except after goals and after penalty (again, pointless)
  • Goaltenders no long can cover puck outside crease
  • Overtime variation of switching ends
  • All penalties to be served in their entirety (not into that either)
  • Bear-hug rule
  • Overhead camera to help Hockey Operations reviews of various goal problems
  • In-net camera
  • Robotic camera to give better camera angles
  • Video replay application review
  • Curved glass at the end of the benches
Obviously, many of these will never see the light of day.
Follow Matt on Twitter @MattCalamiaTHW
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