Rule changes to come for start of the NHL season

Rule changes to come for start of the NHL season

Rule changes to come for start of the NHL season
Rule changes to come for start of the NHL season

Imagine watching Wayne Gretzky without his jersey tucked into the side of his pants. If The Great One was playing in the NHL today, he’d have to choose between no tuck and a two minute penalty. Strict enforcement on uniform rules are one of many new rules the NHL will be taking a look at this season.

The rule on jerseys will prevent players from playing with their uniform tucked into their pants or even rolled up over their elbow pads. It is actually a rule that has been on record for some time, it just isn’t something that’s ever been enforced previously.

Now, with the specific motivation said to be injury related, the NHL will be giving players one warning during each game before hitting them with a two minute minor for delay of game. One thing to worry about is what happens if a player’s uniform gets pushed into their pants during the course of play? No matter how unintentional it may be, is this going to be a zero tolerance policy once the first warning has been levied?

Other portions of the uniform code cover not only the waist and wrist appearance of the jersey, but if pants are ripped along with other fine points of how a player should look. Not that I think it would have much impact, but I’m sure teams will be happy to have their entire jersey on display for televised games. Particularly for those watching who plan to buy a uniform. Why have the jersey bunched and obscured by a pair of pants when the full colors can be flying against the milky white ice?

There should be no reason that anyone is penalized for the jersey tuck by the time the regular season rolls along. Those who tuck will likely have adjusted by then and any potential violators should have had plenty of time to adjust to not tucking in their sweater. Some of the other rules, however, will be far more noticeable to the naked eye.

After shrinking the space behind the nets in 2005, the NHL will take away some depth from the goal in an attempt to provide some additional space to operate behind the goal.

This isn’t likely to make a major impact on a game-to-game basis, although there will be less ground to cover in an attempt to stuff wraparounds. Perhaps there will be a few goaltenders caught reaching as the season kicks off.

One facet of the 2013-14 season which every goalie will certainly have to deal with is the new restrictions on pads. The official rule deals with a complicated percentage of how much pad can cover the space above a goaltender’s knee but it pretty much works out to shaving two inches off the ever important thigh rise for most goaltenders.

This is part of the push to make goalie equipment more tapered and streamlined to a goaltender’s body as opposed to boxy and more of a one-size-fits-all look that many goalies utilize. There’s a possibility that some goaltenders are effected more than others, particularly those who rely on a large thigh rise on their pads. For the most part goalies will be dealing with pads which are two inches shorter.

Keep an eye on goalies who play more of a blocking, ridged style early in the year. These are often the players using bigger gear to fill space as they attempt to get as big as possible and to be hit by the puck. Athletic, mobile goaltenders may not be as adversely affected simply because they rely on movement and not their gear to make most of their saves.

The new visor rule has been well documented and is frankly a few years late. Another rule revolving around the helmets comes down on fighters. It is now an extra two minute penalty to remove your helmet prior to or during a fight. This is a practice promoted by many enforcers who don’t wish to break their knuckles against an opponent’s helmet.

The rule has already been skirted as the combatants remove each other’s helmets before beginning the fight in earnest. However, players who tried to follow Kyle Barch’s lead have been penalized anyway. While removing your opponent’s helmet seemed like an ingenious loophole, I gather that this is a rule here to stay.