Two fights, seven minutes, bucket list: Rules changes/notes

They cite player safety, and hey, in a week where I’m getting dizzy after a minute or two on the bike, I’m all for reducing concussions. But the AHL Board of Governors approved some massive rules changes at Hilton Head this week. In order:

Overtime. They’ll do a dry scrape of the whole rink at the end of regulation; they’ve done the middle of the ice before the shootout the past few years. They’ll put seven minutes on the clock for OT, and it’ll begin four-on-four as it has for almost 15 years, though the teams will change ends, as they do in the playoffs (and, IIRC, the NCAA the past few years, which they were supposedly very happy with). At the first whistle after three minutes, though, if they’re still playing, they’ll go to three-on-three. If that doesn’t work, they’ll go to a shootout, which will be like the NHL’s, a three-man shootout instead of a five-man shootout.

Gimmicky all around (except for changing ends), and eliminating the best part about the AHL’s shootout, using more players and making it almost a team exhibition, rather than the NHL’s, which can be done after a total of four shooters. (With the scrape and the longer OT, time isn’t an insignificant consideration, though.) Anyway.

A full and definitive answer on “what happens if there’s a penalty at three-on-three” wasn’t immediately available, but the assumption is, along the lines of the current five-on-threes in overtime, the team on the power play will get to add players to get to the required advantage, rather than putting a team lower than three men. (That’s a gimmick too far.)

The Goaltenders Union, including new Islander David Leggio, has hopes of no longer being hit with a statistical loss in the AHL for an OTL. (The NHL has gone W/L/OTL-of-any-sort since the 2004-05 lockout; the AHL has always gone W/L-including-overtime-loss/SOL. I’ve generally leaned toward the AHL way — SOLs are ties, OTLs at least include something resembling hockey — but the weirder OT gets, the more I lean toward the goalies.)

Fighting majors. You’re out after your second fighting major. No more three-fights-and-you’re-out — though the three-majors rule remains in effect — but two and you’re done. (Will refs be lenient and give double minors for an abortive, quick scrap? Just thinking out loud.)

Regardless, Fighting then has a smaller part in the game. Some people will cheer that. Some will lament.

Helmets. Akin to the international rule, you now can’t play without one. Get it and put it back on (chin strap secured), or go to the bench. Punishable by a minor penalty. Understand where they’re coming from — helmets are there for a reason, after all — but that’s a massive change, even if it only happens a time or two a game.

On the other hand, if it makes players double-check their chin straps in the first place, that’s not bad.


Never confuse revenue and attendance, Ken Paul was fond of telling us. With that in mind, a note that the league recognized the Sound Tigers for growth in ticket revenue this past season.

Syracuse, the new Berkshire Leaguers, added Jerome Samson to a nice stable of newcomers, tweets Lindsay Kramer.

And RIP, Bruce Saurs, a major figure in Peoria hockey and in the history of four pro hockey leagues; and Tom Veryzer.

Michael Fornabaio