Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin is upset with Rule 9.5 from this year’s official rulebook. If you haven’t heard about it yet, it’s because it’s a subtle, new addition that could wind up being controversial.
This year’s rulebook has hammered home some issues regarding uniforms and equipment and Rule 9.5 says players aren’t permitted to tuck their jerseys into their padding and their back uniform numbers cannot be obscured.
Ovechkin tells Katie Carrera of the Washington Post he’s less-than enthused about the change.
“I’m the guy who love that kind of stuff. I’m kind of upset about it, but most important thing, nobody talk to us, the players. They think it can be dangerous for somebody. I think it’s kind of stupid,” Ovechkin said Sunday. “My gear is not stay [near] my body so jersey always goes in. If I’m going to put jersey normally, I’m going to skate and it goes back.”
Through his whole career, Ovechkin has been a jersey tucker. Asking a player to change like that can be upsetting and now it could cost them two minutes in the box.
If a player is caught once with that (or any other equipment issue) happening, they’ll be warned about it. A second time, however, could result in a minor penalty. Picture a team losing a game late because a player’s jersey got stuck in their breezers.
And here we thought the puck-over-glass penalty got people up in arms.
The NHL’s Competition Committee is scheduled to meet on Tuesday, with mandatory visors, hybrid icing and goalie equipment size alterations being on the docket, according to the Canadian Press.
The report points out that the league is on board with requiring visors, it’s a matter of the NHLPA accepting it as well; they currently encourage the use but think it should be a matter of choice. (Apparently a recent survey showed that 73 percent of players wore one this season, up from what The Hockey News reportedly estimated as just 28 percent in 2001-02.)
Hybrid icing and reducing goalie equipment size also sound like other subjects that might come down to the players, the CP reports.
Ultimately, a two-thirds vote is required to make changes.
The Canadian Press lists the official and unofficial members:
Ron Hainsey of the Winnipeg Jets, Cory Schneider of the Vancouver Canucks, Michael Cammalleri of the Calgary Flames and David Backes and Alex Pietrangelo of the St. Louis Blues will represent the NHLPA. Mathieu Schneider, a former NHL defenceman and special assistant to NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr, will chair the meeting as a non-voting member.
The NHL hasn’t publicly announced its five team officials but they are reportedly general managers Ken Holland of the Detroit Red Wings, Steve Yzerman of the Tampa Bay Lightning and David Poile of the Nashville Predators, Toronto Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle and Philadelphia Flyers chairman Ed Snider.
Although the GMs discussed a number of changes during their recent meetings, such as removing the trapezoid and the potential return of the red line, ultimately there weren’t many alterations to the game agreed upon. Capitals GM George McPhee thinks that’s because, for the most part, the general managers are happy with where the game is today.
“Sometimes you get into this mindset that there are all these things to talk about,” McPhee said. “I’ve been going to these meetings for 15 years and at some point you have to go into these meetings and say, ‘You know what? The game’s in great shape. We don’t have to do much,’ and that’s what we experienced this year.”
McPhee was in on the smaller group meeting to discuss the red line, but he feels the NHL needs two-line passes.
“It adds more creativity and speed to the game,” he said.
McPhee also thinks that strict enforcement of the rules the NHL has adopted in recent years regarding blows to the head should lead to fewer concussions. It’s worth noting that the 30 fines and 38 suspensions that Brendan Shanahan has given this season is a roughly 50% increase compared to what Colin Campbell did back in 2005-06.
If Canucks GM Mike Gillis gets his way, players who perform a defensive zone hand pass will get a minor penalty. The motivation, as you might have guessed, is to improve the attacking team’s chances of scoring. So this might be a small step towards addressing a bigger problem: despite all the chances made following the lockout, scoring is on the decline once again.
Based on figures from hockey-reference, the number of goals scored per game has dropped significantly since it spiked in the season following the lockout. You can notice that change easily enough by just looking at the leaderboard. Last season Daniel Sedin was the only player to exceed the 100-point mark and Corey Perry was our only 50 goal scorer. Back in 2005-06, we had five guys hit or exceed the 50-goal milestone and seven players finish with at least 100 points.
There’s likely no single reason for the decline in goals, but one of the glaring differences between the 2005-06 campaign and today is the number of power-play opportunities. We’ve seen a steep decline in the number of power plays during the last seven years. That’s relevant because in addition to aiding the attacking team, this new rule might lead to more penalties per game. It probably won’t enough to make a major dent, but it might help as part of a larger effort.
According to NHL.com’s Dan Rosen, the one potential rule change that’s gaining the most traction today surrounds hybrid icing.
TSN’s Bob McKenzie reports that hybrid icing is getting enough support from the GMs to bring it up for discussion to the full complement of executives tomorrow. If you want an exhaustive explanation of what goes into hybrid icing, USA Hockey has a video on it to check out. Hybrid icing is currently used in NCAA hockey and in the USHL as well.
Simplifying it, hybrid icing still allows for the chase aspect of going after the puck but eliminates the race to the end boards by judging which side wins the race by seeing who gets to the face off circle first. If the defending team wins the race, the whistle blows and the face off goes to the other end. If the attacking team wins, icing is waived off and play continues like normal.
The key to adapting this rule is to save players from getting crushed into the end boards and preventing needless injuries. From a safety aspect, it makes an obscene amount of sense to adopt this change.