Research and DEVILopment

School is almost back in session as summer vacation draws to a close. This is no different for the National Hockey League.

Starting up is the return of the Research, Development and Orientation camp which will be used to test potential changes to the game. Changes that will be tested will include very subtle, almost unnoticed, changes, to the more, “Oh my gosh, did the barber use a weed-whacker on your hair?” changes.

If you ever wanted to know how today’s game would be played if they didn’t have the Brodeur Rule (that little trapezoid behind the net), this is exactly what they will be testing at the camp.

The NHL will have the two past Jack Adams Award (Coach of the Year) winners– Pittsburgh’s Dan Bylsma and Phoenix’s Dave Tippett — serving as mentors for the young prospects. Not only will the camp serve as a testing ground for potential rule changes, but the camp will also allow teams to take a look at possible 2012 prospects. In total, 36 prospects eligible for the 2012 NHL Entry Draft will be participating in the camp.

Now, I know you’re thinking to yourself, “What kind of rule changes could they possibly be testing?” Let me ease your mind.

1) Trapezoid Rule – The rule was introduced post-lockout as a way to increase scoring. The rule limits goaltenders from leaving the crease to go play a puck in the corners. As a Devils fan, I absolutely detest the rule. Martin Brodeur is noted as one of the greatest puck-handling goalies of all-time. He would always come out of the crease, play the puck in the corner, and lunge it down ice to a streaking player. However, with the trapezoid rule, Brodeur is restricted into staying in his little blue zone in front of the net. Many teams favor this rule because they have very, poor puck-handling goaltenders. The trapezoid limits player movement on the ice, which is not what the game is about. Players should be able to skate and play the puck wherever they want. I won’t even get into the fact that goalies can’t skate over the red-line.

2) No Icing While Shorthanded – While it seems like a good idea to allow shorthanded teams to just heave a puck down the ice since they’re down one or two players, it’s really not. Hockey is supposed to be a game of skill and action. Shooting a puck down ice to clear time off the penalty kill is BORING. What’s being tested at the RDO camp is that the team actually has to play defense. If teams want to be able to dump it into the opposing zone, they must take it past the red-line and dump, just like a regular shift. This will showcase a team’s strong/weak defense since they will actually have to gain possession of the puck and carry it out. Many are mixed on this rule as the NHL gave powerplay teams a sizeable advantage a couple of years ago, when they stated that at the start of a powerplay, the faceoff will be in the offensive zone.

3) Overtime Variations – Every day, I hear people complaining about the shooutout at the end of overtime, and how you would never see a baseball game end in a home run derby, or basketball end in a slam dunk contest. People complain that the shootout takes away that special edge from penalty shots. Hey, everyone’s entitled to their own opinion. I, personally, enjoy shootouts. Always have, always will. But let’s try this on for size, shall we. What if there’s a tie after regulation and teams play FOUR minutes of 4-on-4 hockey. No one scores, still tied. Instead of going to a shootout right away, it would be a THREE minute period of 3-on-3 hockey. I would LOVE to see 3-on-3 hockey. There wouldn’t be clusters of players on the ice, wide-open range to skate and set up plays. The league wants to see fast-paced action and high scoring, 3-on-3 is an awesome addition to OT. If no one scores after the 3-on-3, it would go to a shootout. Also, the league is testing out the possibility of switching ends at the end of regulation. For example, third period a team is shooting left to right, that team would shoot right to left in OT. The league is partial to increasing the time of overtime, that way there might be less shootouts to end the game.

Those are a few of the major changes that the league will be looking into. There are a couple minor things, such as:  referees wearing wireless headsets to relay information to each other during a game, and the “bear hug rule.” The bear hug rule, introduced by Brian Burke, would allow players to wrap their arms around an opposing player to take him into the boards as opposed to violently throwing him into the boards, thus reducing injury.

Which rule changes would you like to see implemented into the game? Leave a comment with your favorite rule change, or add a suggestion of your own!

Follow Kevin on Twitter at @kevinlankey

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Posted on August 11, 2011, in New Jersey Devils, NHL, NHL Draft, NHL Draft Prospects and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Nice post! Something I didn’t even know was happening, Thanks.

  2. 2-on-2 half ice no goalies!

  3. I like shootouts too. Nothing better than that kind of excitement. Anything beats a tie… leaving the arena completely disheartened that you wasted hours of your life. No shootouts is like baseball ending after the 10th inning, with each team getting half a win – not the home run derby idea. Extra innings (each team has a chance to score) is more like a shootout than a HR derby is. I do like the idea of 3 on 3 hockey though. Great post.

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