Friday, June 8, 2012

NCAA Rules Committee Recommends Ways to Avoid Being an English Pig with No Brains

Today, the NCAA announced the resolutions of its Ice Hockey Rules Committee, which met this week, as they do every other offseason to propose tweaks to the rules of the game we all love. First up, the most discussed topic, face shields.
The NCAA Ice Hockey Rules Committee plans to establish a collaborative process with the NCAA Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports to collect data and fully explore the possibility of allowing men’s players to wear three-quarter visors.

Current rules require a full face shield to be worn.

The ice hockey committee did not make a formal proposal but focused more on continuing the process of a full review and data collection effort in the review of current technology. Committee representatives will meet with the competitive-safeguards committee next week to review a wider package of potential enhancements that can be made to enhance student-athlete safety. The committee hopes that a partnership with the competitive-safeguards committee and other hockey organizations (for example, National Hockey League, USA Hockey, United States Hockey League) will lead to the use of visors.
Zzzzzz...huh? What? I'm awake! Before we continue, here's Chris Dilks of Western College Hockey Blog with some of his typically brilliant crankiness:
Protip: If you're worried about head trauma, don't use language and syntax that makes someone want to beat his head against the wall until his nose bleeds.
Zing! So basically, no half shields and no three-quarter shields yet, which is quite a letdown after a brief moment of excitement Thursday night. But they'll study it and get back to us in two years. Enthralling.

The thing that really amazes me is how it's virtually impossible to find a player or coach against the move (the NCAA release cites a survey saying that 83 percent of players and "the overwhelming majority" of coaches are in favor, I feel like that may be conservative), but the NCAA is still finding a way to bureaucracy it to death. Don't believe me? Look at what the rules committee decided in 2010:
To work with the NCAA Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sport to research and study the use of half shield facial protection and the potential impact on NCAA competition.
So in two years, we've gone from "work with" to "a collaborative process." And we're talking about three-quarter shields instead of halfies. Alrighty. I suppose the insurance companies are happy, although with lower premiums and a (possibly) heightened risk of injury, maybe they shouldn't be.

Moving on from that non-change, there were proposals of more immediate concern, each of which has to pass through the NCAA's Playing Rules Oversight Panel next month in order to go into effect for the 2012-2013 season.
  • To give conferences and schools the option to play an NHL-style four-on-four overtime in the regular season, although absent a conference rule or agreement between non-conference opponents, five-on-five will still be the default. I suppose as Penn Staters, we begrudgingly have to get re-acclimated to ties (with shootouts in the ACHA, the Icers' last draw was November 4th, 2005 at Rhode Island), but it's nice to know that the NCAA is at least taking steps to reduce them - another 2010 change involved having goalies switch ends for the overtime period, creating the long change for OT.
  • To outlaw hand passes in all zones, including the defensive zone. No issue here, "conditional" rules always bother me - and yes, that includes icing on the penalty kill as well. As punishment for breaking a get to break another rule? Huh? Okay, back on topic.
  • To move to the NHL rule in cases of goals scored while the net is dislodged, which allows for movement of the goal as long as it's still touching the pins. It's too bad they couldn't come up with this one last time, right Michigan State?

  • To add clarity to the "distinct kicking motion" rule, which will allow most goals off of a player's skate.
  • To require two referees and two linesmen for men's hockey, although two referees and one linesman is still an option for women's hockey. Additionally, it is recommended that goal judges no longer be required, just "recommended." Why take it that far? They're useless appendages.
  • To allow video review of disqualifications after the game. Good move, as accuracy is paramount when you're talking about parking players.
  • This isn't really a recommendation, but Michigan State coach Tom Anastos will be the new chair of the committee, effective September 1st. Go Big Ten.
Know what the best part of all of this is? It's something in NCAA hockey that isn't any newer to Penn State than it is to anyone else. We're getting there.

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