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November 3, 2008

Pete Michaud: Rule Changes

Hello, fans! Well, we?re 10 games into the season, and I figured it was time to talk rules. Each season, the AHL adopts a few new rules, and while they make sure coaches, players, front office executives and media members are well aware of any rule changes, the fans are sometimes left wondering exactly what they should be looking for when it comes to new rules. So, I thought I?d take a minute or two to fill you in. Here are the main changes for 2008-09 you need to be aware of?

Roster Size: While there is no limit to the number of players a team may have on its roster, there is a limit to the number of players that can dress to play for a game. Last season, that number was 19 (2 goalies and 15 forwards/defensemen). This season, that number increases to 20. That works well for coaches because it now means they can dress 4 full lines (3 players on a line by 4 lines = 12 players) and 3 sets of defensemen (2 players per defensive pair by 3 pairs = 6 players) plus the 2 goalies.

Icing: This season, players racing to the puck on a possible icing call may not initiate contact with an opponent for the purpose of preventing that man from playing the puck. If they do, a minor penalty may be called. Basically, this means a forward racing down the ice can?t plow into a backskating defensemen ?touching up? the puck on an icing. It?s a nice compromise between those who enjoy seeing the race to a puck on a potential icing and those who see that play as an unneeded chance for injury.

Overtime Penalties: Minor penalties in overtime are now just 1-minute in length, rather than 2-minutes. Why? The feeling is that being shorthanded for 2 minutes of a 5:00 overtime period is too severe. Hopefully, reducing the length of O.T. penalties will prompt players to be a bit more aggressive in the overtime. As well, any minor penalties in regulation that run into overtime will be reduced by half. For example, if a player picks up a minor penalty late in the 3rd period and that penalty still has 1:20 left at the end of regulation in a tie game, it will be cut in half and reduced to :40 for the start of overtime. This change was requested by the NHL. I assume they?ll adopt it there in the near future if the reaction to it in the AHL is positive.

Delay of Game: The AHL now employs the same rule as the NHL when it comes to a puck being directly shot over the glass out of play by a team in its defensive zone. It?s now a minor penalty for ANY player who does this. Last year, only the goalie was penalized when he did this. Now, it?s illegal for any player.

High Sticking: There is no longer a major penalty for high sticking that causes an injury. It?s now a double-minor (4:00) penalty.

Well, there are other minor changes, but those are the key rule changes you need to know. I hope this helps the next time you come to Scope.

That?s it for now. Another blog entry comes up soon. Until then?

Pete (

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