Rule Changes Cause Outrage with Players
By: Anthony Russo
The NHL regular season began on October 4, and the NHL has experimented with a new face-off violation penalty.
The NHL has also made modifications to calling slashing penalties more frequently thus far in the preseason.
As a result of the first 19 preseason games, combined with all 31 teams, the NHL decided to tell their referees to ease down on the penalizing of the face-off violations and the new slashing calls, due to excessive calls.
According to Michael Traikos of Nationalpost, in the first 19 preseason games, there were a total of 91 slashing minors and 16 face off violation minors called.
On March 23, there was a slash from Pittsburgh Penguins top center, Sidney Crosby, on Ottawa Senators defensemen Marc Methot, due to Methot’s finger nearly being taken off, where the incident was reported as a finger laceration.
Players such as Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron of the Boston Bruins, have spoken out against the new face-off violations and slashing penalties.
“I wonder what they’re really trying to get out of it,” Bergeron said in a response to the NHL’s new rules after a preseason game. “Hockey is a fast game and they’re really slowing it down.”
“It’s really taking a lot away from the game, you can’t have a winger taking all the face-offs,” said Marchand. “It’s becoming a big joke, so there’s got to be something tweaked with it.”
Though there has been much outrage regarding the new rule changes, arguably the best hockey player in the world, Sidney Crosby, said he was in favor of the new face-off changes.
“A lot of guys that use their feet won’t like it,” Crosby said after practice on September 23. “I don’t, so that’s why I like it.”
Though the NHL has dialed back on the new penalties since spreading the word to their referees on September 22, it remains to be seen how the referees will utilize the rules in the near future.
Before the league modified the new penalties, the players had a tough time adjusting to the new rules, and depending how strict the NHL is in the future with the new penalties, the players may still not be able to adjust.
The new penalties could then turn into a countless number of power plays for both teams on a game to game basis, as demonstrated in the preseason.
Yes, discipline is important for teams, but the players have to be given a chance to play 5 on 5 at even strength as well.
The modifications to the slashing penalties after seeing what happened to Methot’s finger last season make sense, as the NHL is trying to protect their players from sustaining injuries.
As it goes for the face-off violations, the NHL needs to be careful, as a face-off violation likely won’t be a reason why a team would win or lose a game, nor does it result in injuries.
The new slashing penalties are there to protect the players, but the NHL needs to figure it out its excessive penalties on face-off violations before it carries into the postseason.