Top 10 Biggest Rule Changes in Sports
Massive NHL Rule Changes
Posted On 05.17, 2013

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Seeing one rule change to alter or speed up a struggling league is not uncommon, but after the 2004-05 NHL lockout, one rule change wasn’t going to cut it; drastic measures were needed. Fearing that the league would lose fans, the NHL made a series of substantive rule changes all designed to boost offensive chances, scoring, and entertainment.

The rules touched on many aspects of the game, including changing the dimensions of the rink, instituting a zero tolerance policy on many penalties, reducing goalies' equipment size and puck-handling freedom, and changes designed to reduce stoppages for offside and icing. All the new rules were meant to eliminate much of the slow down and neutral zone trap style of play that had become popular in the NHL.

The two most noticeable rule changes to the spectator were making the two-line pass legal and the addition of the shootout. A two-line pass helps to break up a neutral zone trap, and allows for more back-and-forth action favoring teams with speed. Creating more breakaway opportunities was unquestionably an exciting addition to the casual fan.

The addition of a shootout to break ties is a rule change that even the most hockey-ignorant spectator noticed. Prior to the lockout, games that remained tied after the five-minute overtime period would end in ties with both teams receiving one point. Now the team that wins the shootout receives two points in the standings, while the loser still receives one. Many NHL purists argue that the shootout is a gimmick and that its novelty will wear off, but it remains popular to date.

Of course there were, and still are, arguments against several of these recent rule changes, but the NHL appears to be on the start of an upswing. Whether that is due to these rule changes or an influx of young talent can always be debated.

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