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  • Wednesday Boogie with The Noogie: The Worst Rule in the NHL


    We are talking about rule 27.8 of course which restricts the movement of a goalie who might be playing the puck. Commonly referred to as the "Goalie Trapezoid", it prevents a well meaning goalie from playing the puck behind his net unless he is in an oddly shaped trapezoid-like area the NHL has somehow deemed magical. The rule starts out innocently enough with just some measurements:

    Now that part is just fine by itself, and in fact could be considered a great thing for the guy getting paid by the hour to paint lines on a sheet of ice. I'm all for jobs and job creation folks. A job I'm not a big fan of however is people whose job it is to make rules. They would seemingly be out of a job if they weren't able to come up with a monstrosity like this:

    I do especially enjoy how they give the goalie an out, like a tiny flicker of hope at the end. 'No no good sir, you can play the puck in the restricted area all you want, just stay in your crease to do it!'

    The rule, seemingly put in place to punish a goalie who can actually handle the puck, also eliminates another very important and unpredictable part of the game. It is a part I miss very much, and that is the goalie who struggles with handling the puck.

    That is what I truly miss folks. I know a lot of goalies out there are plenty peeved they are restricted in where they are allowed to help their team, when all I really want to see myself is a goalie frustrating the fan base to no end. That is not a whole lot in the grand scheme of things if you ask me.

    Now the reasoning behind the rule is something which I have heard a lot of hockey fans complain about. It creates a buffer zone in the corners for your prototypical dump and chase offense.

    Another argument for the trapezoid was that it would create more opportunities to score goals. So obviously with more opportunities you will see more goals right? Not so much, sorry folks. Here is how those numbers breakdown. The '00-01 seasons saw a goals per game average of 5.51. This number spiked to 6.17g/g in the '05-'06 season when the trapezoid was instituted but has steadily declined since, down to 5.64g/g in the NHL's last full season ('11-'12), and 5.44g/g this lockout-shortened season.

    To remove the trapezoid free's the goalie and would force skaters to find a different approach towards entering the offensive zone and maintaining pressure. The NHL is the only league in the world that has instituted a restricted area for goalies in the corners. The dump and chase also leads to some violent collisions as fore-checkers bear down on defenders who are placed in a very vulnerable position against the boards.

    With a league that is just starting to figure things out, the smart play would be to eliminate a restricted area for goalies. We can never expect to eliminate head injuries altogether in such a violent sport. That should not however be a reason to not try to eliminate some very clear trouble spots on the ice. Mixed with the hybrid icing experiment going on this upcoming pre-season we could return a fun, puck possession oriented game, while maybe eliminating the opportunity for a few extra head injuries along the end-wall.

    So please, NHL .... Can we save a little paint behind the goal next season?

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