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Evolution of the rules to consider in the future?

Drastic changes aren’t coming to the NHL just yet, but fun to see pop up and how it could be in the future..

2023 Discover NHL Winter Classic - Pittsburgh Penguins v Boston Bruins Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images

This article is almost two weeks old but I was on vacation saving it for a rainy day.

To stress right at the top, this is an IIHF rule in a special league over there, and not coming to NHL rinks in the immediate future, if ever. There are several differences between the IIHF rule book and the NHL’s (including goalies playing the puck in a trapezoid, crease violations for attackers in the blue paint and strictness of checks to the head).

But it stands to reason if the experiments are well-received that the NHL will be tracking how these tweaks go to affect the game. IIHF rules are used in events they run, such as the Olympics and World Championships, so if these changes go well and are adopted more broadly by that body the more immediate impact would be in those types of international events.

A top-level hockey tournament in Europe is set to experiment with some new rules for the upcoming season.

The Champions Hockey League will implement three changes involving penalties for its 2023-24 season:

-A team that causes a minor penalty will remain shorthanded even if the opposing team scores a goal.

-A minor penalty will be served even if a goal is scored while a delayed penalty is pending.

-If the shorthanded team scores, the minor penalty against will end.

The new rules, unveiled by the IIHF on Wednesday, are meant to “change the game, add an extra later of excitement, but not undermine credibility.”

Evolution to the rules are always happening and sometimes fun. Usually the catalyst for rules changes is the leagues serving the powerful television masters (baseball’s pitch clock, college football not stopping the clock on most first downs anymore) but this experiment focuses on switching the competitive balance when their is a power play going on.

In the NHL, teams remain shorthanded throughout serving major penalties, but those tend to be very rarely called (or at least not off-setting penalties like fighting). The idea of a full two minute power play is intriguing and makes taking a penalty that much more costly if the other team could score multiple goals on it. Of course, in response, NHL officials would probably just call even less penalties but that’s a horse of a different color.

For the second rule, when a delayed penalty occurs, the team forfeits their impending power play if they are able to score before the opponent can possess the puck. That would be erased and again offer a full two-minute powerplay, which sounds intriguing enough. In execution this also happens pretty rarely to actually be able to score pre-penalty, but it at least opens the door in theory to more offense, which is usually the mark of a good rule.

The third rule is extra spicy to allow the shorthanded team a “get out of jail” card if they can score. This might encourage them to take more chances.

Similarly, one rule that is absent but would fit would be to disallow the shorthanded team to ice the puck. Currently now, teams can simply fling it from deep and if they clear the blueline, the team on the power play has to regroup in the neutral zone and costs them time to establish offensive zone possession and get back setup. It’s surprising and a bit disappointing that with all these changes that they didn’t tack that on, but perhaps the shorthanded team is already suffering enough by having to kill the full two minutes.

It will be interesting to track how these rule changes go, and if any future momentum is gained to institute them more for the game at-large.