It’s rare that I ever get a request to discuss a certain topic from someone. Most of the time it’s me picking the topic I want to discuss, and then I churn it out maybe a half an hour before I should hand it in.
But because it’s the first full season after a disappointing lock out and there was plenty that went down at the Collective Bargaining Agreement meetings, several people have asked me to discuss the league rules I believe will affect the Rangers most, and I’m going to give the NHL a letter grade for how well they got it right.
So, without further ado, here’s what you missed from the CBA talks:
Visors will be grandfathered into the league.
The concussion scare that has plagued the league since the end of the 2004-05 season-long lock out has lead to several discussions in regards to concussion prevention. However, this is the first real action the league has taken in an effort to try and make the number of concussions decrease. All players entering the league for the first time will be required to wear a visor, while returning players have the option of doing so or not.
Rangers defenseman Marc Staal was a large factor on this one after getting a concussion this past February when he took a puck right in the eye. Honestly, he’s lucky that he isn’t blind in that eye, but he’s still such an unfortunate case of how easy it is for these players to get concussions. He wasn’t even back to his former self after a concussion his older brother Eric had given him more than a year before when he got hit in the eye, which is why I’m not satisfied with this new rule.
While forcing the young players to keep it safe when they’re young and inexperienced at the professional level, Staal and Penguins forward Sidney Crosby have both proven on several occasions that any player at any given time, regardless of age, talent, experience and or fame can get a concussion. Concussions can be career and life-threatening injuries, so the league should be as strict as possible when concussion prevention is involved.
I understand some players argue impaired eye sight isn’t worth the amount of protection, but they’re acting like morons about it. Get a grip, get a visor and snap it on your helmet.
NHL GRADE: C-. They should have been much stricter with this one. Like I said, anyone can get a concussion, including seasoned veterans. Players should drop the machismo act, and coaches and other team personnel should call them out on it.
Smaller goalie pads.
In an effort to increase goal scoring in a league where winning a championship has increasingly been a question of who can get passed whose defense more, the league has decided that smaller goalie pads are their best bet to increase goal-scoring and offensive contributions.
This is probably the most important and problematic rule change the Rangers face; it’s also the rule which will make the game most interesting this season. Making the pads smaller will make the area blocking a goalie’s five-hole bigger, which will increase a player’s chances of scoring in an area that was mostly covered by the pads before.
This rule is going to have a significant change on the way goaltenders play the game because since the season-long lock out nine (nine!) years ago, many of the league’s best goaltenders and Vezina Trophy candidates have been butterfly-style goalies. The new rule provides the most problems for this style of goalie because while their quickest reflex is to defend the five-hole, they’ll have to make that reflex and jump to cover that much quicker and that much tighter.
Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist is not only one of the best in the game right now, but he’s also the best at playing this particular style. While it would be foolish to not expect some adjustment to the new pads and one would expect his five-hole to be a little weaker than in previous seasons, I’m not too worried about him. He’s going into a contract year where he knows he needs to be on his best game. Also, it’s debatable whether or not there’s a player in the league right now more determined to be the best than Lundqvist is.
NHL GRADE: A-. It makes life a little less fair if your team is a defense heavy team, but this could make the game more fun.
Penalty for tucked-in jerseys.
From now on, all players have to wear their jersey the same way. If a player wears their jersey tucked into their pants, they will first be given a warning, then a two minute penalty if they don’t comply, and then possibly a 10 minute misconduct and a game misconduct if the player still refuses.
This is a stupid rule and I’m not sure why it’s being adopted, but it isn’t the most difficult or serious of regulations the league can enforce. There isn’t anyone on the Rangers who tucks in their jersey enough to notice, but it’s one of those strange things the league has decided to enforce.
Some people have speculated this is a step toward putting advertisements on jerseys, which I sincerely hope is not in the future of the game. It has worked for soccer and leagues all over the world, but it can’t help but make you sad. We all know that sports aren’t just sports anymore and that they are also businesses, but having to be reminded of it every time your team steps out to play is depressing.
NHL GRADE: D. Because really, even if we don’t know why it’s here, the speculated reason for it being around is extremely depressing.
Other rules to look out for-Extra penalty for players who take off their helmet while fighting/video reviews of high-sticking penalties which could cause a four minute double minor/Shallower nets that will give offensive players more room to take a shot on goal, and will also make goal-reviews easier to call.