Thursday, 11 August 2011

Two For Icing

Brendan Shanahan is working on improving the ol' game of hockey once again, and he brought up an interesting idea today regarding the rule of icing of the puck on a penalty kill. As you're aware, the team killing the penalty is free to ice the puck as many times as they like before the end of the penalty. Once the penalty is over, the icing rule reverts back to normal. This may change is Brendan Shanahan's lab tests prove fruitful, and it could mean an entirely different way to play the game in the future.

According to the Boston Globe's Kevin Paul Dupont, Shanahan spent the last couple of days looking at the various ways to improve the game by tinkering with some of the long-held rules that may not be very useful anymore. One of those rules is looking at the number of times that a penalty killing unit can ice the puck per period or game in order to increase both powerplay and shorthanded goals as well as trying to get the number of penalties taken by teams to decline. Essentially, if a PK unit ices the puck too many times in a period or over a game, there would be an additional delay-of-game penalty tacked on for each additional icing incident on subsequent penalty kills. Sounds interesting, right?

"Look, I think part of it is that [icing the puck] is easy to coach," Shanahan told Dupont. "Just about any kid with guts and good skating ability can play the PK."

Personally, I think that forcing the defensive team to skate the puck out is a radical but genius idea. It's far harder to play defence and skate the puck out when you're exhausted, and this will create turnovers by the defensive teams. Turnovers lead to goals and, conversely, some teams will be forced to examine their proficiency in taking penalties if they are getting killed on the penalty kill.

Alternatively, if you send four skilled guys out there, you could rack up a few shorthanded markers against a tired powerplay unit. Can you imagine what teams like Detroit, Pittsburgh, Boston, or Vancouver can do with speedy playmakers on their powerplays instead of some third- and fourth-liners?

Of course, nothing is set in stone right now - it's the whole reason why Shanahan is running through these trials and tests of new rules before they hit the ice. After all, everyone seems to be a fan of the long-bomb pass made by defencemen, but what happens if the forward doesn't receive the pass? Should the penalty killing team be penalized for trying to make a play? Shanahan realizes this might be the detail that kills this idea.

"Obviously, they’re not always successful," Shanahan told Dupont about the stretch pass, "but those long bombs are really fun to watch. It’s a very exciting element.

"Well, if you’ve got a defenseman back there killing a penalty, and his name isn’t Bobby Orr, Nicklas Lidstrom, or Ray Bourque, then maybe he’ll be hesitant to try that pass.

"So, as much as I might like to see the PK team pay the price, that might be too much of a price."

This is where Shanahan has mentioned the idea of having a select number of icings allowed per period for a penalty killing team. For example, if a team is given six PK icings to use per period, they can send the puck the distance of the ice only six times to relieve pressure while killing all penalties in that period. Every other time, they would be forced to skate the puck to center ice and then dump it in. The challenge, of course, is that teams are shorthanded when killing penalties, and this would up the difficulty level in being shorthanded. After all, why should the penalty-killing team be given a free pass to ice the puck if the powerplay unit cannot?

I think this is an idea worth investigating at length by Shanahan and his group, and it could radically change the way the game is played from both a player's approach and a coaching standpoint. No longer is there an escape route - players and coaches will have to work hard on the penalty kill if they break rules. After all, isn't that the entire idea of being penalized?

What say you, readers: would you be in favour of penalty-killing teams being penalized for icing the puck too often, or do you think that changing this rule changes the integrity of the game? Let me know in the comments!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!


Mike Engle said...

Love the idea! I'd recommend one or two free PK icings a period. No rollover: use it or lose it. One thing's for sure, "icing" on a PK really is a more annoying form of delay of game than shooting the puck out of play.

Justin said...

Quite a silly idea if you ask me, of course it will make the game "more exciting" and make teams have to work harder, but does it really matter? Where did this idea come from? This might not even change the way penalty killers get rid of the puck. Now they might just aim for, let's say, the other team's blue line. What's the point with tinkering with this Shanahan? Is their not enough fast paced action already?
How is this even a debate? Sure, it sucks when the opposing team ices the puck on your powerplay. Well...MAN UP AND GO GET IT!!!

Captain Canuck said...

what a stupid suggestion. I could see it if he had never played the game before like Bettman, but having played. he should know what a dumb idea this is.
I can see it now... scoreboards across the country being modified. Take off the score, that's not what's important. we now have to keep track of icings!!!! How exciting!!!

I get trying new things. But let's not make changes for the sake of change.

Bob said...

I guess this is an interesting concept. But I think there are better ways to increase scoring than limiting icing attempts. For one, they should regulate the enforcement of rules. There is such a huge difference between regular season and playoffs it makes no sense.