Tag: rules changes

Wes McCauley

“Mirroring” is the new obstruction


By now you know all about how scoring is down and many fear the dark days of the dead puck era have returned. One of the issues is the lack of penalties called and the very apparent creep of obstruction back in the game.

The New York Times explains what’s got everyone in a bind is called “mirroring” and league officials know all about it.

Called mirroring, it occurs when a defenseman skates in the same route taken by a forechecker trying to get to a puck that has been dumped into the offensive zone. The defenseman skates slightly in front of him, mirroring his path at a slower speed and preventing him from proceeding at full speed.

The managers might see it as slippage in the standard, but referees might view it as not explicitly violating the rules.

“It’s not holding or interference, it’s just getting in the guy’s way,” said Gary Meagher, the league’s vice president of communications, who is closely involved in the managers’ meetings.

You’ll see it in every game on dumps to the corner: The forechecker getting essentially faceguarded as he skates towards the puck. According to how the rule book is written regarding interference, mirroring seems to be allowed (Rule 56.1 makes it sound OK).

Call it mirroring all you want, but obstruction is obstruction no matter what name you give it. If the league is worried about the game being gummed up, making a move to penalize mirroring would take care of things until a new way to cheat the rules is discovered.

GM Meetings: Removal of trapezoid gaining some support

Image (1) brodeurandthetrapezoid-thumb-250x166-18316.jpg for post 3055

Among the rule changes the NHL GMs are discussing during this week’s meetings is the elimination of the trapezoid. The trapezoid has been in place since the lockout in the hope that it would improve the flow of game and hinder a goaltender’s ability to clear the puck. However, some GMs argue that defensemen are absorbing needless hits because goaltenders can’t assist.

Sharks GM Doug Wilson wanted to get rid of it three years ago, but his proposal fell on deaf ears. This time might be different.

“We have more support and will take to it the bigger group tomorrow,” Wilson said.

Only time will tell if the GMs end up supporting such a rule change, but like the hybrid icing change, which seems to have gained traction today, this potential move will hopefully make the game safer.

GM Meetings: Red line rule doesn’t gain much traction

Ken Hitchcock

For all the talk about safety in the GM meetings, the worry was that there would be some over-correction that could accelerate the NHL’s return to the Dead Puck Era. Of course, the most obvious example is the discussion to bring the red line back – and therefore eliminate the two-line pass along with (perhaps) some of the grinding hits that come with dump-and-chase strategies that (supposedly) arise from the red line’s removal.

Neutral zone trap Chicken Littles can breathe easily, though, as Yahoo’s Nick Cotsonika is among the reporters who passed along news that the move to remove the red line didn’t gain much traction.

I’ll just insert this excerpt from Cotsonika, which is basically acting as a text-based stress reliever:

Some GMs came to the meeting in favor of the idea, thinking the game had become too fast and too simple, with teams firing the puck through the neutral zone and simply tipping it into the offensive end. Their thinking is that re-instituting the red line would slow down the game or add skill through the neutral zone.

(Quick aside: I’m not saying that there’s NO skill involved with navigated the neutral zone, but I still laughed out loud at the notion that re-instituting the red line who be a good thing for skill players.)

But there wasn’t much support among the small group that discussed it, according to the Detroit Red Wings’ Ken Holland. The worry is that teams will start trapping in the neutral zone the way they used to or just find another way to adjust.

“I think pretty well everybody in our group agrees that they like it the way it us,” Holland said. “We can change the rules, but we’re going to have another set of circumstances five years from now and four years from now. That’s the problem.”

Don’t mind me, I’m just going to dance on the grave of that horrible, horrible idea.

More GM Meetings goodness:

Burke gets dirt in his face part one: No “bear hug” rule.

More Burke dirt: Puck-over-the-glass delay of game penalty seems here to stay.

Brendan Shanahan breaks the meetings down.

Hybrid icing gets a serious look.

GM Meetings: Pucks over the glass still = penalties

Boston Bruins v New York Rangers

A little earlier this afternoon, we discussed Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke’s somewhat melodramatic reaction to his beloved bear hug rule being received about as well as the idea of actually being “hugged” by a bear. (Editor’s note: they’re not going to hug you, Grizzly Man.)

Burke wasn’t just bummed about the bear hug rule, though. He also brought up a far less controversial idea to eliminate one of the NHL’s most polarizing post-lockout penalties: an automatic delay of game minor if a player sends the puck over the glass in his own zone. Hockey purists go wild over the penalty and Burke agreed – but other GMs didn’t share his opinion, according to what he told James Mirtle.

Thus when Burke discussed getting “dirt kicked in his face,” he might have been describing a double shot of sorts.

A lesser evil

Personally speaking, I’ve been a bit divided on the delay of game penalty. There are times when whistling it seems arbitrary, but call this viewpoint jaded if you like, but there’s a certain cleanness about taking some guesswork out of referees’ hands. I think NHL zebras get far too much of a hard time for making tough calls in one of the world’s fastest sports, yet the significant decay of obstruction penalties shows that they’ll swallow their whistles when they can.

Ultimately, I’d like it to be a judgment call, but much like the shootout, it’s probably best to shift to bigger issues. I’d rather the league focus on a) no-brainers like removing the trapezoid and instituting hybrid icing and b) actually enforcing rules that already exist.

(To Burke’s delight, it seems like hybrid icing might actually happen.)


Where do you stand on the polarizing puck-over-the-glass penalty, though? Do you hate it, understand it or maybe a combination of the two? Do tell.

GM Meetings: Brian Burke – “I got dirt kicked in my face again”

Brian Burke

Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke got to where he is by thinking in a bold way, but bigger ideas aren’t always easy to make universal.

Burke has been pushing a “bear hug” rule for quite some now, which essentially would allow a checking player to “hug” an opponent while hitting him along the boards to brace for the impact. The negative side, naturally, is that the attacking player would undoubtedly be engaging in a form of obstruction in the process.

Perhaps that negative side is too much of a gray area for GMs to stomach, because Burke told James Mirtle that it didn’t work out. In fact, he was customarily dramatic about it.

“Bear hug had no support – no chance,” Burke said. “I got dirt kicked in my face again.”

Such an emo description makes me imagine other general managers making spit takes when he brings up the idea, even if they probably just voted “Nay” while shrugging their shoulders. (Kevin Lowe would have been more difficult about it, but he’s not the Edmonton Oilers GM anymore.)

The pros

However general managers reacted, there’s a method to Burke’s madness. Hits from behind are among the most dangerous in the game, but you cannot make them universally illegal without putting a team’s defense at a profound disadvantage. Burke’s idea would allow defenders to defend against the glass without getting suspended (or hurting someone badly).

The cons

Again, though, the gray area comes in when they were “hugging” to help someone not get injured and when they were just trying to slow an opponent who gained some ground down low or in the zone.


Where do you stand on the rule, then? It might be quite some time if GMs ever approve of such a measure, but it doesn’t mean the hockey world cannot debate its merits in the mean time.