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With the ratification of the Collective Bargaining Agreement completed, devoted fans of the game breathe a sigh of relief. With each new week that goes by, curiousity grows to see what effect the new rule changes will do for the game, and the movement of players in all directions due to an implemented salary cap brings a very real excitement and anticipation for the upcoming 2005 NHL Season.
The work and sacrifices that the league, owners, and players have done to make the new season a reality is to be commended. Gary Bettman, never with due appreciation it seems, has done a fantastic job at the helm of the league for over a decade. Owners and General Managers of teams such as the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames now have the opportunity to compete, for the most part, on an equal playing field.
A Summary of Rule Changes for the 2005 NHL Season:
1) The goal line will be moved two feet closer to the end boards, and the blue lines moved two feet further away from the goal lines to give an extra four feet in the offensive end. Tension during powerplays will increase for the fans of short-handed teams.
2) The red line will be disregarded for the two-line pass rule, giving rise to a faster game and more breakaway opportunities to watch.
3) The tag-up rule will give offensive players who've overshot the blueline into the opponents zone before the puck a chance to circle back to the blueline and then continue back into the offensive zone to play the puck. This will reduce whistles for offside infractions; once again speeding up the game.
4) The instigator rule has changed to penalize fights started during the last five minutes of the game. One game suspensions and a $10,000 fine to the instigating players' coach are manditory penalties. Fighting will always remain an exciting part of hockey from a fan's perspective, regardless of bleeding heart support to stop the act of throwing the gloves off.
5) Changes to the way linesmen approach icing will hopefully reduce the worrisome issue of dangerous end board collisions that occur during races for the puck.
6) Goaltender padding will finally be reduced. The days of seeing ridiculously large equipement on goaltenders are over. Scoreboards will no doubt show the effects of this rule change.
7) The elimination of tie-games due to the incorporation of a shootout is a welcome addition by most fans of the game. A tie game at the end of regulation will be followed by a four-on-four five minute overtime, and then followed by a three man per team shootout if both teams are still deadlocked. If still tied after this, then a sudden death shootout will begin to produce a winning team. The winning team will receive two points: the loser in overtime or a shootout one point; and the loser in regulation zero points.
A Summary of Player Movement:
Mike Peca, Jeremy Roenick, Darian Hatcher, Peter Forsberg, Tony Amonte, Paul Kariya, Bobby Holik, Scott Niedermayer, Nikolai Khabibulin, Sergei Gonchar, Brian Leetch, Chris Pronger, Mike Rathje, Adam Foote, Gary Roberts, and Joe Nieuwendyk are but a few players who have moved on to new teams.
The new Collective Bargaining Agreement, all rule changes, and all player movement can be viewed at http://www.nhl.com/.
About the Author
Austin Culley is an avid fan of the NHL, and Vice President for Oil-Net.Com Inc. http://www.oil-net.com