NHL bans spin-o-rama, goes after diving in new rules

NEWARK, NJ - APRIL 11: Ryan Strome #18 of the New York Islanders of the New York Islanders scores on a spin-o-rama in the shootout against Martin Brodeur #30 of the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on April 11, 2014 in Newark, New Jersey. The Islanders defeated the Devils 3-2 in the shootout. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The NHL released a slew of rules changes for the 2014-15 season on Thursday, including an aggressive targeting of divers and embellishers.

Here are the new rules; our brief comments follow each one, with an expanded look at the rules coming over the next few days.

Rule 1.8 – Rink - Goalkeeper’s Restricted Area

The trapezoid will be expanded by two feet from the goal post on both sides of the net.

Rather than killing this regrettable restriction on a goalie’s skills, the trapezoid will be expanded. One assumes this is continue encouraging an aggressive forecheck and limiting the ways in which a goalie can handle the puck. Which will all lead to defensemen being in more vulnerable positions but, hey, goals!

UPDATE: As noted by a few people, larger trapezoid means the goalie plays the puck more. So disregard my safety concerns. OK, not completely, because the trapezoid is still a safety issue, but at least the ones here.

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Rule 23 – Game Misconduct Penalties

A new Game Misconduct category will be created. Clipping, charging, elbowing, interference, kneeing, head-butting and butt-ending move from the general category into the same category as boarding and checking from behind (“Physical Fouls”), whereby a player who incurs two such game misconducts in this category would now be automatically suspended for one game.

A fairly common sense move by the NHL. Although one assumes that if you have two elbowing game misconducts, you’re getting more than a game in the press box.

Rule 24 – Penalty Shot

The 'Spin-O-Rama' move, as described in Section 24.2 of the 2013-14 NHL Rule Book, will no longer be permitted either in Penalty Shot situations or in the Shootout.

The IIHF banned “spin-o-ramas” earlier this year, and the NHL decided to follow that lead. Say goodbye to “WAS THE PUCK MOVING FORWARD?!?” debates.

Also say goodbye to an array of awesome, posterizing moves from star players in a skills competition that allegedly puts those skills on display. Guess we should be more worried about the goalies having a sad than creating a highlight for “SportsCenter.”

Rule 38 – Video Goal Judge

Video review will be expanded in the following areas:

* Rule 38.4 (viii) has been modified to allow broader discretion to Hockey Operations to assist the referees in determining the legitimacy of all potential goals (e.g., to ensure they are “good hockey goals”). The revised Rule will allow Hockey Operations to correct a broader array of situations where video review clearly establishes that a “goal” or “no goal” call on the ice has been made in error. The new expanded rule will also allow Hockey Operations to provide guidance to referees on goal and potential goal plays where the referee has blown his whistle (or intended to blow his whistle) after having lost sight of the puck.

* In reviewing “Kicked in Goals,” Hockey Operations will require more demonstrable video evidence of a “distinct kicking motion” in order to overrule a “goal” call on the ice, or to uphold a “no goal” call on the ice.

On that first point, we’re going to have to get further clarification as to what the hell it means. If a referee blows the play dead, it’s no longer totally dead? Has the War Room finally found a way to defeat “Intent To Blow”?

On that second point, the “distinct kicking motion” is still a fine measure of legality for kicked-in goals because the majority of them should count anyway.

Rule 57 – Tripping

The rule relating to “Tripping” will be revised to specifically provide that a two-minute minor penalty will be assessed when a defending player “dives” and trips an attacking player with his body/arm/shoulder, regardless of whether the defending player is able to make initial contact with the puck.

But, in situations where a penalty shot might otherwise be appropriate, if the defending player “dives” and touches the puck first (before the trip), no penalty shot will be awarded. (In such cases, the resulting penalty will be limited to a two-minute minor penalty for tripping.)

So touching the puck is no longer a “get out of jail” card for defensive players that trip offensive players, which is a pretty signficant change. It’ll still get you out of a penalty shot, but any player diving to get the puck that knocks down a foe gets a minor penalty.

Which means unless you’re attempting to save a goal, it’s probably not going to happen.

Rule 64 – Diving / Embellishment

The supplementary discipline penalties associated with Rule 64.3 (Diving/Embellishment) will be revised to bring attention to and more seriously penalize players (and teams) who repeatedly dive and embellish in an attempt to draw penalties. Fines will be assessed to players and head coaches on a graduated scale outlined below.

Fining the coaches is a very nice touch, although it’s stunning to think that coaches can be fined for a fourth diving penalty of the season but not for a second Rule 48 violation.

This is pocket change for players. The real issues is whether the NHL will make public the names of the players that are fined for diving, and whether they’ll hand out a fine at all.

Rule 76 – Face-offs

To curb delay tactics on face-offs after icing infractions, in situations where the defending team is guilty of a face-off violation, following an icing, the defending player who is initially lined up for the face-off will be given a warning, but will be required to remain in the circle to take the face-off. A second face-off violation by the defending team in such situation will result in a two minute minor bench penalty.

Love it. The cheating by exhausted teams on icing calls is a joke.

Rule 84 – Overtime

* Teams will switch ends prior to the start of overtime in the regular season.

* The entire ice surface will undergo a "dry scrape" prior to the start of overtime in the regular season.

* The procedure requiring the head coach to submit a list of the first three shooters in the shoot-out has been eliminated.

The dry scrape is something that’s been talked about all year, and should increase the quality of the OT play.

As for the shootout list thing, that’s also a positive: Let coaches actually, you know, “coach” during the shootout.

Rule 85 – Puck Out of Bounds

There have been further rule changes made relating to face-off location to avoid penalizing teams for plays intended to create bona fide scoring opportunities. Specifically, the following are "categories of plays” where face-offs will remain in the attacking zone despite the fact that the attacking team was technically responsible for the stoppage in play: Shots at the net by a player on the attacking team where: (i) the shot breaks the glass; (ii) the shot goes off the side of the net and deflects out of play; (iii) the shot goes off the dasher boards or glass and deflects out of play; (iv) the shot is tipped or deflected out of play by a teammate; and (v) the shot becomes wedged in or on the exterior of the goal net.

Sure, whatever, you still have that dopey puck over the glass rule that penalizes a guy who shoots it from one goal line over the boards on the other side of the rink.

What’s your take on these rules changes?

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