Buzzing The Net - Junior Hockey

QMJHL ditches trapezoid rule, player changes after icingsYou know how some people will just type, "First!" on a comment thread just to be first? That's not why, exactly, the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League deep-sixed the trapezoid rule on Thursday, but it sure comes off that way since the rule is so loathed.

Among other changes, the QMJHL lifted the rule that puts restrictions on where goaltenders may play the puck behind the goal line. It seems like a positive change, given that (a) it might spare defencemen from being run hard into the boards when the puck is in the forbidden zone and thus being at the risk of injury; (b) the rule didn't lead to more goal scoring, which was the stated reason the NHL instituted it in 2005; (c) it was just all-around asinine and (d) all of the above.

One has to believe, or hope at least, that reducing the injury risk to defencemen was a major reason for the chance. A possible unintended consequence of nixing the trapezoid is that it might also making dumping and chasing seem less tempting and encourage teams to try to score with good passing and puck movement. Perhaps that's too optimistic by half, but any move that might curtail the return of pre-2004 hockey in major junior should be viewed as a positive one.

Forbidding a team which ices the puck from changing players, which is the NHL's rule, is also a good one. Being able to ice the puck without consequences can be deleterious to the junior game; there was an element of that in the MasterCard Memorial Cup when the London Knights were locked in a close game with the eventual champion Shawinigan Cataractes. When London was nursing a one-goal in that game the way a broke grad student nurses a beer, there were people along press row at Centre Bionest fretting that a Knights victory might usher in a new Icing Age, so to speak, in the CHL. That will likely not be the case in at least one league next season.

The tendency for the Canadian Hockey League has been for one league to change its rules first. The other two will follow suit if the change proves to be a good one. The QMJHL's change doesn't dictate that the Ontario and Western leagues will do the same, especially since it's counter to the rule in the all-important NHL. But one could see it going that way with ditching the trapezoid. Meantime, at least for next year, the QMJHL champion's goalie(s) will have to adapt at the Memorial Cup since the trapezoid will conceivably still be in place for the tournament.

The only other on-ice changes the QMJHL has adopted involves two more types of scoring plays which can reviewed. The video replay official may now look to see if there was a hand pass made to a player immediately before a goal was scored or if the puck was touched by a high stick before a player recovered it and scored.

Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Contact him at neatesager@yahoo.ca and follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet.

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