Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Better hockey, through better study

Brendan Shanahan dons his white coat this week, ready to tinker, tweak and study the results to come as the NHL embarks on its annual pre-season study as to what may improve the game for player and fan alike.

The NHL's research, development and orientation camp gets underway at the MasterCard Centre for Hockey Excellence (There are some things that money can't buy. For Everything else, including game changing decisions, there's Mastercard?) a two day examination and testing range where all sorts of modifications will be tested out, though there's no guarantee that they'll ever make it to a rink near you.

Thirty players, top prospects for the 2012 NHL entry draft will provide some of the guinea pig moments, the most intriguing item and the one that some suggest has the best chance of becoming adopted is a hybrid icing rule, which will put the linesmen in the position to call or waive off icing calls and the race for the puck, an exciting but sometimes dangerous part of the game that can result in injury.

It has the stamp of approval of Leafs GM Brian Burke, who is also championing another change, which will see defacement to wrap up opposing players in their arms when within two metres of the boards, the "bear hug rule" would allow the defenceman then to guide the forward into the boards, hopefully eliminating the current dangerous situation of players getting slammed into the boards when most vulnerable.

NHL officials also are looking at a crossover rule from Lacrosse, a rectangular box on the ice in front of the players benches to make things easier on the officials when it comes to deciding too many men on the ice calls during on the fly changes.  Changes will only be allowed when players are within that rectangular area and it's hoped that will reduce the number of too many men calls that slow down the game.

Those are some of the highlights, there are many, many others most of which will return to the lab for tinkering or to be put far back on an upper shelf, never to be seen again.

A full review (and a bit of satire) as to what the NHL plans to look over can be found below.In some cases a preview of what may be coming to the NHL in seasons to come in others, well lets just say there's probably a bit of work to be done by Professor Shanahan just yet.

Globe and Mail-- NHL tinkers with the game at hockey research camp 
National Post-- Bending the rules with Bettman
Sportsnet-- Rules of engagement
CBS Sports-- A look at what's being tested a RDO camp
ESPN-- SuperSkills events on R & D camp itinerary
NBC Sports Chicago-- NHL moves into the lab
Toronto Star-- NHL research camp LIVE

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