Double Tap the Trap

13thMar. × ’12

The NHL has made a remarkable number of rule changes in the last half decade since the lockout. One or two of them down right idiotic, others ok, and one or two that are hugely beneficial. One of the ones in that first category has come up for review at this years General Managers meetings.

The trapezoid was one of the absolutely bizarre and unimaginably idiotic things that was spawned by the powers that be having way too much free time during the lockout.  The official goal was to improve the safety of the goaltenders. The unofficial (and real) goal was to take away the advantage of the goaltenders that can handle the puck well.

The belief was that the trapezoid would help stop teams from playing the neutral zone trap. They thought this would lead to smoother offense and more goal scoring. It was a knee-jerk reaction to the “dead puck era” that was solved quite handily by a newer, more athletic generation of players and the elimination of the two line pass rule.

 

What the didn’t understand is that this has led to more icings. Which has led to a certain small increase in icing related injuries. The purposed fix is an inane change to the icing rule that takes still more control out of the hands of the players and yet again lowers the intensity of play.

The simpler, smarter, more easily understood, less arbitrary, way to address the issue is to remove the trapezoid. Will every goalie go out to play the puck in the corner or out by the top of the circle? No of course not. But for the teams that have goalies like that it will be an advantage, it will aid offense at least as much as it does defense. It may even lead to less injuries to goalies. A goalie in a lop sided game who goes seven or eight minutes without facing a shot could start to tighten up, if they have the chance to make a quick skate to the side boards and pass the puck to a forward along the far boards while their team makes a line change it is going to keep them both mentally engaged and physically active.

For teams that have a young defense like the Ottawa Senators or a banged up defense like the Philadelphia Flyers the end of the trap could be a god send. A goalie who handles the puck well, like Brodeur who has at least a little bit of veteran savvy is going to make smarter outlet passes than than some rookie or sophomore defenseman. On a defense that’s missing a key player or two not having your remaining defensemen have to skate the extra hundred feet in each direction to retrieve the puck and then break it out again several times a night for months will save a lot of wear and tear. Realistically, there could also be less injuries around the blueline as outlet passes will have a higher potential number of players to go to.

In short eliminating the trapezoid is the only sensible rule change of all the ones I’ve seen discussed. It puts control in the hands of the playere and coaches, it removes artificial and unnecessary barriers to creative and exciting play and gives teams a way to perform as a six man unit.




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