NHL Rule Changes Enacted for the 2017-18 Season—One Fan’s Report Card

Photo: NHL via Getty Images

The NHL enacted five rule changes to start the 2017-2018 hockey season. Both the regular season and the playoffs are in the rear view mirror. So now is a good time to assess whether the rules improved the game, detracted from the game, or had no major effect. All grades are the author’s only. But please feel free to comment on how correct and insightful the author is in rendering his opinions. 

Summary of Rule Change

Author’s Report Card on Rule






No time-outs granted for the defensive team following an icing call. Defensive team must remain on ice.



I get it.  Requiring the penalty killers to stay on ice while letting those on the power play bring in fresh troops should lead to more scoring. Doubtful that the refs ever blew this type of call.

If a team on a power play high-sticks the puck, the face-off location remained the same regardless of the man advantage.



Previously, a team on the PP that played a puck after it was high-sticked had the faceoff come all the way back to their defensive end. This past season, if the team on the PP played a puck after it was high-sticked in the offensive zone, the ensuing faceoff took place in the neutral zone next to the defending team’s blue line. I am ok with the intent to increase scoring, Besides, the refs got it right most of the time

If a team challengedthat a goal was offside and loses the challenge – meaning the play was “on-side”- the challenging team received a two-minute delay of game penalty.



Let the boys play. I question the wisdom of allowing offsides to be challenged in any circumstance. Too much time was spent determining whether or not a player’s skate was a millimeter off the ice. Refs are there to earn their salaries. And their human frailties are part the game. Besides, even upon further review, the refs still managed to get it wrong on several occasions.

Referees more strictly enforced slashing rule to reduce hand injuries.



In some sports, there are good “no-calls.” But hockey has its shares of ticky-tack calls. Allow the refs to use judgment as to whether a player slashed an opponent’s hand with intent to injure. Otherwise a slight love tap on the gloved hand is just part of the game.

Stricter enforcement of face-off positioning to increase safety of players and officials



Players taking the draw should have their feet within the limits of the markings by the dot and not inside of, or touching them. Over the years, the NHL has been lax in how it enforced this rule, Particularly at the start of the season, we saw a plethora of penalties leading  to confusion from fans, players, coaches and executives. “Cheating” during the draw is fair as long as both teams seek a face off advantage. Plus, I am tired of seeing the linesmen eject players from the circle for a minor technicality. Let em play.

By the way, for the 2018-19 season, the League has thus far shown no intent to keep tinkering with a game that ain’t broke. What’s next, outlawing checking? No name calling? Ending face licking? No angry looks?

By Jim McCarthy

About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Centre in 1974. His interest in the Caps has grown over the decades and included time as a season ticket holder. He has been a journalist covering the team for 10+ years, primarily focusing on analysis, analytics and prospect development.
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