As a huge hockey fan, I am a purist of the game, and I don’t like to see too many things change.
Of course, since the 2004-05 NHL lockout, we have seen a different NHL. The tag-up offside rule is a nice change, as it allows for a smoother-flowing game with less interruptions. The big change was obviously the implementation of shootouts. I liked the idea at first, especially since it eliminated ties, but it really has become somewhat gimmicky to me, and the fact that it cost my team a playoff spot this past season really doesn’t help matters. If the shootout is ever implemented into playoff hockey, I might have a nervous breakdown.
Now we have news of a possible new rule regarding icing, which would make it so that icing is determined by whether or not the defending player reaches the face-off dot before the offensive player. While it would certainly reduce the risk of injury associated with trying to touch the puck near the end boards, I would rather not see this change. A lot of people, such as ex-NHL coach Ken Hitchcock and Buffalo Sabres GM Darcy Regier, seem to be on board with the idea. But I am so used to watching the game with the traditional icing rule, and I would hate to see yet another significant component of the game be changed. A lot of people talk about eliminating fighting, but again, as a hockey purist, I feel that it is too important of a part of the game to just eliminate entirely.
Nevertheless, I certainly do see the positives of these proposed changes – mainly the reduction of injury risk. And the elimination of fighting would place more emphasis on the skill aspects of the game, which ignorant people don’t understand, as they assume that the game is just a bunch of mindless physicality and fighting.
In the end, these changes wouldn’t be the worst things for the league, but it would be tough on the hockey purists of the world, such as myself. I personally have had enough with the rule changes and the dumbing-down of the game in relation to its marketing styles (like when a team has a stupid, immature voice say over its arena loudspeakers, “(Insert team here) are on the power play!”).
I have always appreciated the game for what it is, and it’s a shame more people can’t do the same. On the flip side, though, if changes are made for more legitimate reasons, like safety, then I could at least understand them. I just don’t want to be watching an entirely different type of game in five years.