Useless Rules

Some rules are made to be broken. Some are made to be ridiculed.

So, in light of the recent General Manager meetings in Florida, where the NHL Rulebook is subjected to its yearly scrutiny, let’s bring the rulebook out once more. If the GMs and Board of Governors can analyze it like lawyers analyzing a contract, we certainly can be lawyerly too. (Unfortunately, we don’t all get to lounge in Florida while we do it.)

Often, we find that some rules are not just pointless – they are stupid. That is legalize for: They are so ridiculous that they should not even be found in the rulebook.

Let’s look at a few of those rules, and please leave your IQ at the door, as this journey through stupidity may drop your intelligence by several points…

1. The Trapezoid
This is often known as the “Martin Brodeur” rule. It was implemented in order to prevent goalies like Brodeur from handling the puck like a third defenceman. However, why is this a rule? Aren’t we supposed to encourage our kids to learn every skill they can? So if a young goalie is incredible at passing the puck from his net to the opposite blue line with Sidney Crosby-like accuracy, why tell him, ‘No.’?

I’m not shooting down the idea of the trapezoid, but why not allow goalies to play the puck outside the trapezoid, at the risk of being checked legally by opposing forecheckers? Is there anyone in the league (besides Devils fans) that wouldn’t love to see Mike Richards slamming Brodeur into the boards in the corner? That sends the simple message of, “Stay in your net!”

2. The Bloody Rule
The NHL Rulebook states, “It is required that any [equipment with blood on it] be properly decontaminated or exchanged.”

Not that I’m complaining, but don’t we see bloody jerseys all the time, whenever someone gets badly cut?

3. Obstruction?
What is the point of obstruction? Isn’t it the same thing as interference? I understand the “New NHL” wants to stop the clutching and grabbing and hooking and holding, but why do you need to make a new rule for this? Can’t we just call interference and holding more often? We need another Tie Domi to set things straight…

4. Tie-downs
How awesome is it when, during a fight, a player’s jersey comes up over his head, and he gets tackled because he can’t see? Don’t we want to see it more often? This rule is pointless, as there is no logical reason why a jersey has to stay on a player’s back during a fight.

5. Kicking
The NHL has a rule against kicking or high-sticking the puck into the net. I can understand the high-sticking part, as that can turn into more injuries, but there is no reason why players should not be allowed to kick the puck into the opposing net. How about some sweet soccer kicks to give Alex Ovechkin his 50th goal? Or a player who dribbles the puck in his skates on a shootout shot to give his team the win? It also would allow us to accurately tell the players to “Kick it up a notch.” BAM!

Alan Bass is a writer for The Hockey News and In addition to writing for Inside Hockey and Pro Hockey News, has also worked for the Philadelphia Flyers. He is the General Manager of the Muhlenberg College hockey team as well. You can contact him at

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