Common sense rule changes, Day is exceptional and the KHL’s top players of the semifinal

You'd think wearing visors would be a common sense choice for both players and owners. (MPR529/Flickr)

You’d think wearing visors would be a common sense choice for both players and owners. (MPR529/Flickr)

Anyone who watches hockey closely knows there are plenty of rules that are either called inconsistently or just make no sense at all and Ryan Lambert of Puck Daddy goes over regulations that could be looked over at the GMs’ meetings this year.

From mandatory visors being left to the players making their own choice even when the majority of GMs are in favor of the idea to hybrid icing not being implemented, a rule chance that could prevent several catastrophic injuries each season. From Lambert:

Players don’t want it because it brings more ambiguity into the game (oh no!) and also eliminates the race for the puck.

Here’s Mathieu Schneider on that prospective change:

“You want to avoid the unintended consequences of what may happen when you change a rule like that.”

Unintended consequences like gruesome injuries? Oh wait, he means blown icing calls. Right. This is presumably because the reason people buy tickets is for the one in every 40 or 50 icing calls on which a forward wins a puck; nothing says exciting like a guy getting pinned to the end boards while everyone else comes back from the far end of the ice to try to help out.

Of course, there are other issues people like to think are a big deal that really aren’t such as goaltending equipment and embellishment. As Lambert notes, goalies no longer look like J.S. Giguere did when he took Anaheim to the Stanley Cup final in 2003 and diving will never be eliminated without “the NHLPA … opening its members up to … mockery and scrutiny.” That mockery comes in the form of a published list of divers who get suspended after their third strike. Embellishment is something that happens in all sports (we should just be thankful hockey is nowhere near as bad as soccer) and officials don’t have the benefit of replays when calling the penalty. It also doesn’t help when players get hurt trying to draw a penalty which put the referees and off-ice officials in a tight spot. More from Lambert:

Going after these guys when games are over, and slapping them with fines or other supplementary discipline, doesn’t work either because some guys who turn their backs to the play end up getting legitimately hurt, and Brendan Shanahan can’t go about making a suspension video for a guy who’s sitting out with concussion-like symptoms.

So this, too, is an issue that the league can’t address in the way it should, and therefore won’t do it at all, though one supposes that’s for the best.

Rules changes are not inherently a bad thing. Whether they relate to visors or hybrid icing or increasing scoring or getting the scourge of diving out of the game, the factor that make these efforts good or bad is how expediently and effectively they’re carried out.

So far, the NHL is 0-fer.

And I really don’t expect much of that to change any time soon.

*     *     *

Sean Day, 15, has been given exceptional player status by the Ontario Hockey Federation and will enter the Ontario League Priority Selection held on April 6, 2013. The defenseman is the fourth player to receive the honor, following Connor McDavid, Aaron Ekblad and John Tavares.

From the OHL’s official website:

“Sean Day should be very proud of himself in attaining exceptional player status,” said OHF Executive Director Phillip McKee.  “The evaluation process is very extensive and reviews all aspects of the player’s life.  We all look forward to seeing Sean continue his development as a player and person in the OHL next season.”

Already 6-foot-2 and 197 lbs., Day, born in Leuven, Belgium, played for Detroit Compuware this season, recording 11-24-35 and a plus-47 in 63 games.

*     *     *

khl logoThe Kontinental League’s conference finals begins today as SKA Saint Petersburg hosts Dynamo Moscow with Ak Bars Kazan taking on Traktor Chelyabinsk tomorrow. In the semis, SKA swept Severstal Cherepovets and Dynamo eliminated CSKA Moscow in five in the Western Conference while Ak Bars beat Salavat Yulaev Ufa in Game 7 and Traktor beat Avangard Omsk Region in five games in the Eastern Conference. The KHL announced the top players of the semis yesterday.

Traktor stopper Michael Garnett was named the top goaltender earned four shutouts in the five-game series against Avangard, finishing with a .986 save percentage and 0.40 goals-against average. Including the first round, a seven-game defeat over Barys Astana, Garnett has a .940 save percentage and 1.76 goals-against average so far in the playoffs.

The top defenseman was Brent Sopel of Salavat who scored two goals in a seven-game loss and finished the series against Ak Bars with a plus-4.

SKA’s Viktor Tikhonov was named the best attacker as he had five goals and six points, along with a plus-6, in four games against Severstal. Included among those five goals was a hat trick in a 7-4 Game 1 victory.

Finally, Valery Nichushkin was the top rookie, notching three goals, including the game-winner in Game 2, for Traktor along with a plus-2.

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