The Guinea Pig League

As everyone knows, the American Hockey League has served as the NHL's guinea pig when it comes to potential rule changes. The A tries it out, and if it sucks, then the big show doesn't use it. It makes sense for the most part, but as someone who watches quite a bit of AHL hockey, it can be frustrating. A few weeks ago, six rule changes were made for the upcoming American League season. One is a huge tester for the NHL, and the rest are simply to align the two leagues closer together in the rule books. Here are the changes:

1. Roster change. Teams will now be allowed 18 skaters and two goaltenders - up from 17 skaters and two goaltenders. I like this. Nothing much else needs to be said.

2. One minute penalties for minors assessed in overtime.
This was requested by the NHL GMs. I'm interested to see how this works out. I don't automatically have a problem with it. I actually might like it.

3. Double-minor for a bloody high-stick. No more five minute majors for a high stick that draws blood. Not really a huge adjustment.

4. New delay of game penalty. NOOOOOOO!!! Not this again. This assesses a minor penalty to any player or goaltender who fires the puck out of play if they're in their own defending zone. The AHL tried this a few years ago, and I hated it. Maybe it's because Brooks Orpik was on the team at the time, and he averaged about 1.5 of these penalties a game. Seriously. That's probably close to being a realistic statistic. It's also possible I could be exaggerating a bit. Anyway, I just think it's silly. I'm so scarred from that type of penalty, that I still cringe when the puck sails over the glass. More often than not it's an accident. I'm getting heated thinking about this. Time to move on.

5. Icing adjustment. Basically, you can't take out an opposing player if he's going to tag up the icing. Whatever.

6. Face-off location. If a puck goes off the goal post or crossbar, the following face-off stays in the zone where it went out of play. I'm not sure that this will be very noticeable. Maybe though.

I'm waiting for the league to say April Fool's in regard to the delay of game change. Too bad it's July.



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