The Annual Pretend-Rule-Crackdown Is Back In Town

When visiting the city of Calgary, the home of chinooks and summer storms, one often hears the famous idiom “if you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes.”

People freaking out over the NHL’s big crackdown on slashing and faceoffs should adopt a similar mantra. If you don’t like the stricter enforcements, just wait two months.

There are three things we can always count on: Death, taxes and the always-changing NHL rule book.

Big crackdowns arrive like clockwork every September. Players, coaches and fans howl like hell when the stricter enforcements hurt their team, and shrug with mild indifference when they help their team.  Sometime around early January the crackdown fades and becomes a distant memory. And come playoff time, the bulky regular season rule book is replaced by a rules leaflet.

This year will be no exception.

In September, games will be repeatedly interrupted as linesman toss centremen out of the faceoff circle, or on occasion dispatch them to the sin bin (for two minutes) to think about what they have done. By next spring, faceoffs will have returned to their usual full-rugby-scrum status where head butts, shoulder blocks and ankle slashes are once again prevalent.

In September, slashes even remotely close to the puck carrier’s hands will be punished non-stop. By next spring, Paul-Bunyan-style baseball hacks will be common all over the ice.

By the time the Stanley Cup final rolls around, referees will put their whistles in their pockets, tackle football on ice will begin, and the NHL will once again announce a big crackdown on the size of the goalie’s equipment.  

Which of course, will never happen. Maybe next year.

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