What is the Worst Rule in Hockey?

Photo courtesy of The Globe and Mail

By Bob Haynes – @BobHaynesJr

Without a doubt I prefer to watch NHL hockey over any sport on television. However just like the other sports have their dumb rules, the NHL has a few that classify in the dumb category as well. The NHL is “blessed” to not have the 3-point line like basketball or the poor pace of play that the MLB must endure between pitches. So here I will start a discussion to locate the worst rule in the NHL rule book.

Candidate One
The first candidate is the automatic delay of game for a puck cleared over the glass. Over 50% of the time I see this rule called in a game, it is the wrong call. The game of hockey is fast and the puck does not slide flat all the time. For this reason, the officials should have to look at the play and judge if the player intended to shoot the puck over the glass.

Candidate Two
The second candidate is the automatic 4 minute for high sticking. Again making this automatic is not practical. Some really minor high sticks draw some blood while others are major contact with the helmet or with the flat part of the blade that does not cause blood. Again the intent or careless use of the stick should set the length of the penalty.

Candidate Three
This candidate should have some opinions from both sides. “The Instigator” rule in hockey has been hated since the first season in use, yet somehow has not been removed for close to two decades of GM meetings. The rule was put in to stop a player from starting a fight for which he was not directly involved with the initial play. Perhaps this is why the role of the hockey enforcer is now dead. Players no longer have to stand up to Dave Schultz or Marty McSorely if they take a run at a great player on their team. Back in the day, if a guy took a run or a cheap shot on Bob Clarke, Mr. Schultz was going to get that guy in the corner somewhere in the future and make him pay with his own vigilante style justice. The same thing went for a guy putting a stick or elbow on Wayne Gretzky. There was an almost immediate reaction to a questionable or even a hard check on the player. Now the player that polices the hit is given 17 minutes in penalties (2 for instigation, 5 for fighting, and 10 minute misconduct). While I am not asking for the days of the bench clearing brawls to come back, I think the ability to deliver a message is valuable in sports.

Candidate Four
This candidate is more of an area. The league needs to make up its mind on pucks going in off a player’s skate. They all should count or none of them should count. Since I do not ever see a time where we want players kicking at the puck near the goaltender I say that all pucks that go in off an attacking player’s skate should be disallowed just as all pucks that go in off the player’s hand have always been.

Candidate Five
Four-on-four overtime and the shootout during the regular season is the fifth rule that I will nominate for this list. What is wrong with two teams playing to a tie? It happens in the NFL and they don’t start throwing balls through tires to settle the game. The 60 minutes of the game is more than enough time to settle a regular season game. There really is no need to extend the game.

Candidate Six
The final candidate is the standings and the way tied games are worth more than a regulation game in the standings. Of course if we can get rid of Candidate Five, this one goes away as well. All games should be worth the same in the standings no matter what. If some games are worth 3 points (2 for winner and 1 for loser) than by standard mathematical logic, games that are won in regulation should be worth 3 points for the win. It really is that simple. The clustering of teams in the standings is a direct result of the inflated 3-point games that occur all year randomly throughout the schedule.

I will compile a list of the best suggestions through my Twitter account @BobHaynesJr and put the results up in a future article.

Concussions Revisited
The list of players with concussions and the after effects is still growing. The league needs to address the issue and several retired players such as Eric Lindros and Keith Primeau are speaking out on the issue that shortened both of their careers. Lindros said that the game is too fast now without the two line pass. He said the long pass has created such speed that exceeds what a body can absorb safely. Primeau is taking an approach that will help players be identified as being concussed at the first impact so the Crosby issue does not reemerge (being concussed on the first hit but playing through it). This device tells when a player is concussed so that the player cannot “talk his way” back on to the ice and into the game.

What is your best way to minimize the concussions in the NHL? Comment on Twitter @BobHaynesJr to start a discussion.

Re-Alignment Take 2
I addressed the issue or realignment once Winnipeg was set to play in the Southeast Division. The original article can be found at: http://thehockeyguys.net/nhl-realignment-plan/
Please take a look at my ideas and comment on Twitter @BobHaynesJr.

Good Night and Good Hockey!

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