NHL Rule Changes


Sweeping changes are coming to the NHL. Or should I say the new NHL as it should have a distinctly different look when it returns. According to this article by Al Strachan of the Toronto Sun, several rule changes and new twists will be implemented in order to add more spice to the game.

Here is a rundown of what is being proposed.


it appears that there will be 20 teams in the playoffs. there will be first a best of 3 series between the teams seeded 7 through 10. the seventh seed will play the 10th seed and the 8th seed will play the 9th seed.


Teams will play the regular 4 on 4 overtime for 5 minutes. If still tied, a 3 on 3 overtime will commence for 3 minutes. If the teams still remain tied then a 3 man shootout will occur to determine a winner. The other big change here is that the winning team gets 2 points and the loser gets nothing no matter if teams win in regular time, overtime or shootout.


goalies will not only have to deal with the smaller equipment but they will in some form be restricted on puck handling. There will also be tighter restrictions on when and where goalies can freeze the puck. I guess there will be no more jumping out to the blueline to freeze the puck anymore.


Several items pertaining to the neutral zone will be implemented. Most notably is the removal of the redline. The two line pass will now be legal now allowing the stretch pass to be part of the game. Fatter bluelines will be part of it and the puck will only need to gain the blueline to be onside rather than go past the blueline. The goal has been moved back 2 feet widening the neutral zone by 4 feet.


The tag-up offsides is back which will allow for players trapped in the zone to “tag-up” at the blueline and re-enter the attacking zone. And though the no-touch icing has not been implemented there were some changes to that rule. the first player to cross the icing line will decide if it is icing or not. the player needs not to touch the puck. if the attacking player wins the race, icing is waved, if not, then icing is called. Also, teams that ice the puck from their defensive zone will not be allowed player changes. This will attempt to discourage icings by teams with tired players as those players will have to remain on the ice while the opponents can bring on fresh troops.


not really changes but enforcement. the yearly call for obstruction has been made and hopefully used. there will also be tougher rules on hooking and holding in the attacking zone and not just the neutral zone. Plus the crosschecking and slashing will be called tighter as those infractions have caused increased injuries recently.

players will be suspended and fined if they get an instigator penalty in the last 5 minutes of regulation. coaches will get fined and teams will get fined if they pay the fines for teh coaches and players. if it happens twice, the penalties double.

Diving will have some severe penalties as well:

1st dive – warning

2nd dive – player put on list and fined

3rd dive – player put on list and fined double

4th dive – suspension

Players and not just goalies will receive penalties for shooting the puck in the stands from the defensive zone without touching glass.

The changes will be great for the game. Adding more teams to the playoff hunt will bring more interest as now 20 markets will have a stake in the playoffs instead of 16. It was bad to have almost half the league out of the playoffs. traditionalists will argue that this pre playoff playoff is too much a gimmick but it makes sense. those teams that win their division and finish high in the standings deserve to have a significant advantage on the lower seeded teams and now they will with more rest and home advantage.

The overtime is good too adding a 3 on 3 and finally eliminating ties. but i am not too fond of the point system. the thought is that the 2 points or nothing system will not encourage offence but rather discourage it. the trapping and tight defence may be even more prevelent as teams protect leads to guarantee their 2 points rather than go into OT knowing that they may end up with nothing. I think allowing a point for getting to overtime makes sense. maybe make regulation wins 3 points.

The goalie changes are needed, no red line will open things up for sure and i like those new icing rules but all will be moot if they cannot crack down on the obstruction. that will be the tell all tale of how the league wants to go. if it wants to stay status quo, we’ll only see obstuction crackdown for a month and then the rodeo on ice will return. if it wants to get better, then we better not hear much from coaches, GMs, and players complaining about it. it is for the greater good and finally we may see the players showcase what they can really do. combining the no tolerance with the other rule changes will make a big diffence in the game. the no obstruction is the key to everything and if they clean it up, the game will be better than ever.