Monday, October 14, 2013

Fix the NHL: Weird Penalties Edition

The Puck Over the Glass Penalty

Glass puck
There are no pictures of a puck going over the glass, so here's a glass puck.
Brendan: Just in case you weren’t aware of this penalty: this rule states that any player that intentionally throws the puck over the glass and out of play without it having first hit something in the rink (another player or their stick, the boards, the glass, etc.) is given a minor penalty and spends 2 minutes in the penalty box. This is another no-brainer; there is no good reason that this should be a power play generating penalty, because it’s so subject to random chance and so difficult at times to tell whether or not the puck hit anything before going out of play.

You’re an intelligent human being so I very much doubt I need to explain this to you anymore. This should be changed as soon as possible, even though it doesn’t have a massive impact on the outcome of games. The amount of times that a player intentionally throws a puck over the glass, while difficult to prove, is very likely to be small and thus the penalty is more harmful than beneficial.

Patrick: I don't see why this can't be called like a flagrant foul in basketball. Just because something is called rarely doesn't mean it shouldn't carry a harsh penalty. Tell the refs to err on the side of "it was an accident" and some players will get away with causing a dead puck and faceoff, but if it looks like a guy did it to get a line change or something, give that guy a 2 minute minor. Heck, you could even make it a 1 minute penalty. Are there any one minute penalties in hockey? Just something to discourage purposefully stopping play to gain an advantage in a way not sanctioned by the rules, like a timeout. Think about it: you'll get a delay of game penalty in lacrosse or soccer, flagrant or T in basketball, or unsportsmanlike in handegg. There should be something in place in hockey too.

Is this easily instituted at lower levels? I don't see why not.


Hybrid Icing

Brendan: Addressing the icing scenarios is a far different animal, and something I’m extremely uninterested in discussing. I think it’s one of those things that people throw a fit about that, despite watching hockey for my entire waking life, I just don’t get and probably never will.

Patrick: I think I know the technical rule of icing, but I don't totally understand it when it's called. I also think it's for safety, but I liked the hybrid icing idea widely circulating and spelled out nicely in this Grantland post. Essentially, it's a no-touch rule and the play is blown dead unless the ref thinks the trailing player has a realistic shot at touching the puck first. Apparently, we're willing to give the refs some amount of discretion here and not with pucks going over boards.

Is this easily instituted at lower levels? Yeah, sure, probably.

We DISAGREE, but only because I don't really know what you think.


Brendan: DIVING YEAH ITS BAD PLAYERS ARE CHEATERS THEY SHOULDN’T BE ALLOWED TO GET AWAY WITH IT (silently ignoring the fact that sporting events are judged at extremely fast speeds by human referees and thus it is nearly impossible to eliminate or even greatly reduce the amount of in-game cheating/semantics/embellishing that goes on in this or any other sport in the history or future of the world)!!!!!1!!1! I can’t underscore enough how much I despise this argument from fans/pundits that plagues every sport on earth.

Patrick: There's just no realistic way to accurately judge and precise it. And when people do, they can be really wrong. It's frustrating to see guys collapse and get a favorable call, especially when it's blatant, but it happens in every sport. Even in baseball, guys try to sell close brushes as being hit by a pitch. Since our goal is to increase viewership, I'm going to go ahead and say that diving is an easy bogeyman in every sport that people love to complain about but doesn't actually affect any opinions of the sport itself. Except soccer, those guys are SOFT.

Is this easily instituted at lower levels? It's not, and that should be a clue that it wouldn't be easily instituted at the professional level either.


Observational Studies co-founders Brendan Porto and Patrick Dougherty are debating the merits of the most popular ideas proposed to improve the NHL. The rules for improvements are laid out here. Send us your own ideas to fix the NHL and we'll share our commentary on a new post.

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