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View Full Version : Rules Reinforcement - I've Heard This Song Before



Stauber1
06-27-2013, 11:09 PM
The latest meeting of the NCAA Ice Hockey Rules Committee (http://www.ncaa.com/news/icehockey-men/article/2013-06-24/ice-hockey-rules-committee-renews-focus-rules-enforcement-all-) concluded that consistent enforcement of current rules is an area that needs improvement (the title of the USCHO article is a bit misleading as rule changes are only made in even-numbered years). Emphasis was placed on protecting the puck carrier, interference and hits from behind with the sum goal of gaining "alignment with the NHL."

On its face this seems very worthwhile. However, this is not the first time we have heard this kind of talk from the rules committee. In fact, it seems that every other year these very same "points of emphasis" along with a couple others get recycled with little to show for it.

In both broad and specific terms, the conclusions of the 2013 rules committee meeting are ones that have been voiced by the rules committee for some time. In 2004 (http://fs.ncaa.org/Docs/NCAANewsArchive/2004/Association-wide/ice%2Bhockey%2Bcommittee%2Btargets%2Boverall%2Benf orcement%2Bof%2Brules%2B-%2B7-19-04.html), the committee's main focus and single "point of emphasis" was "overall better rules enforcement." The committee, in conjunction with the NCAA commissioners and supervisors of officials, then composed an open letter (http://www.theozone.net/hockey/04-05/openletter.htm) asking for the cooperation and commitment from the ice hockey community as a whole to help implement and make permanent this single point of emphasis. In both 2005 and 2006 the rules committee reaffirmed this emphasis as well as joined with the conference commissioners in issuing an officiating directive (http://www.collegehockeynews.com/news/2006/10/06_ncaareaffirms.php) specifically dealing with the need to better enforce current rules. Yet here we are, in 2013, with the exact same issue being the focus of topic for the rules committee.

It is important to note that in the interim between 2006 and 2013 many of the "points of emphasis" the committee adopted were recycled from previous years and from these aforementioned directives as well as from other conclusions the committee had reached in years prior. Just some of the examples of this include:

- In 2005 (http://www.uscho.com/2005/07/02/ice-hockey-rules-committees-recommendations/), the committee changed the language regarding boarding and charging penalties so that, according to then-committee chair Enrico Blasi, "Now, anytime a player is hit from behind into the boards, regardless of the result of the play, a major penalty and a game misconduct or disqualification must be assessed." Yet hitting from behind remained a point of emphasis in 2006 (http://www.uscho.com/2006/07/02/report-on-ncaa-ice-hockey-rules-committee-meeting/), 2009 (http://fs.ncaa.org/Docs/NCAANewsArchive/2009/Association-wide/hockey%2Brules%2Bgroup%2Bsuggests%2Bpoints%2Bof%2B emphasis%2Bfuture%2Brules%2B070209%2Bnews.html), in the 2010-2011 (http://s3.amazonaws.com/ncaa/web_video/ice_hockey/2011/2011_mih_midseason.html) midseason reinforcement video and now again in 2013.

- Also in 2005, embellishment was given particular attention. It was made a "point of emphasis" in 2006 and 2007 (http://grfx.cstv.com/photos/schools/mery/sports/m-hockey/auto_pdf/rules.pdf). In 2008 (http://www.ecac.com/officiating/ice/2008-09/rules_changes) a stand-alone diving penalty was adopted. The issue was made a "point of emphasis" yet again in 2011 (http://fs.ncaa.org/docs/rules/icehockey/2011/2011_meeting_report.pdf).

- One of the major reasons for stricter and more consistent enforcement of current rules that was outlined in the 2004 open letter was to ensure a player who "through the use of physical skill and/or anticipation, has a positional advantage on an opponent, shall not lose that advantage through the illegal use of hands, arms, or stick." Similar "points of emphasis" dealing with obstruction, hooking, holding and slashing (often worded as "protecting the puck carrier") were again adopted in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, in the 2010-2011 midseason reinforcement video and now again in 2013.

- In 2010 (http://www.uscho.com/2010/06/11/contact-to-head-crackdown-among-rules-changes/) the committee changed the "contact-to-the-head" infraction so that it carried an automatic major penalty and either a game misconduct or disqualification. The committee then felt the need to make it a "point of emphasis" in 2011 as well as 2012 (https://ncaaicehockey.arbitersports.com/Groups/106896/Library/files/2012%20Meeting%20Report%20rev.pdf).


Given that the rules committee has found it necessary to reiterate the same "points of emphasis" over and over for nearly a decade, it is difficult not to conclude that the committee has been unable to affect any real or significant change to the way the rules are applied on the ice. The committee recognizes areas of concern within the game but clearly hasn't figured out what to do to mitigate those issues to an acceptable level.

So where is the disconnect? Is the culture truly so entrenched as to explain 10 years of the same issues remaining unresolved? It seems that the NHL has had at least moderate success in implementing some of the changes that college hockey has struggled to attain. Are the mechanisms of the leagues and how the games are administered different enough to explain that, or has the NHL been more effective in how it goes about ensuring that change in the application of rules takes root?

HarleyMC
06-28-2013, 01:24 AM
IMO there's been significant progress in implementing and enforcing rules changes adopted to curtail hits from behind and to the head and neck area. The IHRC is simply reemphasizing other specific rules the committee determined were not being consistently "enforced" last season. Since they didn't have any specific rule changes to discuss at their annual meeting, what else could they discuss? An iterative emphasis on rule enforcement is always a welcome rebuttal, as the quality of college hockey officiating always seems to possess an uncanny ability to suddenly become reprehensible. They should have put firing Don Adam on their meeting agenda too. Worst refereeing I've seen in a long time from him last season. "I just make s*** up as I go":

******** width="420" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/10-p3C-FbGw" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

Stauber1
06-28-2013, 02:20 AM
IMO there's been significant progress in implementing and enforcing rules changes adopted to curtail hits from behind and to the head and neck area. The IHRC is simply reemphasizing other specific rules the committee determined were not being consistently "enforced" last season. Since they didn't have any specific rule changes to discuss at their annual meeting, what else could they discuss? An iterative emphasis on rule enforcement is always a welcome rebuttal, as the quality of college hockey officiating always seems to possess an uncanny ability to suddenly become reprehensible. They should have put firing Don Adam on their meeting agenda too. Worst refereeing I've seen in a long time from him last season. "I just make s*** up as I go":

******** width="420" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/10-p3C-FbGw" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

I agree that there has been some progress in hits to the head, and even some in hits from behind. But for such a strong and repetitive call from the rules committee to clarify and consistently call checking from behind as a 5-minute major, we still see countless examples every year of total inconsistency in the way the rule is applied.

More obvious, and I think more in contrast to the way the NHL game has developed, "protecting the puck carrier" has remained elusive. It's something that has been explicitly addressed by the rules committee every single year going back to 2004 with the exception of 2012 (it is my feeling that it was omitted in 2012 only because there was such an effort placed on clarifying and emphasizing the contact-to-the-head rule).

I'll go ahead and say (and what you seemed to be saying as well, Harley) that there needs to be a greater degree of accountability for the on-ice officials. The NCAA can emphasize as much as they like, but if there are no consequences for officials who fail to live up to expectations then there is not going to be any significant change to the way the game is called.

I fully understand the complications that this would entail. It's not like people are lined up in droves to become college hockey refs, so it can be argued that the pool simply isn't robust enough for conferences to take more serious steps to reprimand and discipline officials who are not meeting expectations. At the same time, I'm not convinced that the pool is so thin to justify the lack of action we have seen on this front.

joecct
06-28-2013, 09:22 AM
Bad coaching at youth/junior levels.