With the NHL season rapidly approaching, the league office put a couple of new rule changes and fixes into effect for the coming year, and there could be a serious impact on the Chicago Blackhawks because of the tweaks.
The most notable of these potentially Hawks-affecting changes is the one to Rule 76, which impacts face-offs after icings:
“To curb delay tactics on face-offs after icing infractions, in situations where the defending team is guilty of a face-off violation, following an icing, the defending player who is initially lined up for the face-off will be given a warning, but will be required to remain in the circle to take the face-off. A second face-off violation by the defending team in such situation will result in a two minute minor bench penalty.”
The tactic in question is one the Blackhawks used a lot to get their players a moment of extra rest after icings (if a team commits an icing infraction, they aren’t allowed to make a line change). Marian Hossa often would go into the dot, deliberately get thrown out, and Jonathan Toews would skate in to take the face-off. That will no longer be permissible under league rules, and it will be interesting to see just how seriously the league takes the new rule change.
There are two other changes that could affect the Blackhawks as well. Rule 1.8 has been amended, expanding the size of the trapezoid (the area behind the net where the goalie can legally play the puck) by two feet from each goal post. Corey Crawford goes behind the net to handle the puck quite a bit, and while he’s had trouble doing so, this could only increase the temptation to put a lid on things by settling the puck down.
Also, the NHL is instituting a rule that will surely make Denis Savard cringe, as they’ve banned the “Spin-O-Rama” move in shootouts, which means Patrick Kane won't get a chance to deploy it when he's tired of slow-rolling goalies.