2012 NLL Rule Changes

NLL_AllStar 2010 Steenhuis Lacrosse lax
Transition stars like Steenhuis could be that much more vaiuable now!

The National Lacrosse League have announced five (5) rule changes for the 2012 season. The rules changes are expected to be much to the delight of our very own Connor Wilson, as the new rules have been set in place “to improve game flow, player safety and allow goaltenders added mobility… (and) to allow the players of the NLL to further display their speed and athleticism on the floor this season“, said League VP of Operations Brian Lemon via NLL.com.

The rule changes are as follows:

5 Minute Major Penalties

Traditionally, in the Canadian summer version of the ‘pro/amateur’ box game, 5 minute major penalties are released after two (2) goals. Additionally, after two goals, the penalized team is then able to play even-strength, but the penalized player must serve the full five (5) minutes.  However, in the NLL now, three (3) goals will release a player for a major infraction. Whether, the player still serves the full five minutes was not disclosed.

“When a player commits a Major Penalty, his team will be short-handed until the five minute penalty expires OR the opposing team scores three power play goals. Under the previous rule, a major penalty ended when the opposing scored two power-play goals.” via NLL.com

Pro’s -More goals…

Con’s – More power play goals…

Opinion – Personally, I don’t mind PP goals. But, there is nothing exciting about a shooting gallery. Even-strength goals and transition goals are much more exciting. No one looks at the game sheet and looks at a ton of PP goals and says “Oh wow, I bet that was an AWESOME game”.  On the other hand, when someone looks at a game sheet and sees the same amount of goals, all even-strength, they say “Holy S#*!, that must have been one hell of a back and forth game”.  For those who don’t know the sport, it is silly to think that the NLL want to show them a shooting gallery with no 2-man-game, or back and forth action. If this rule, the NLL may need to consider turning off the shot clock for the short-handed team.

8-Second to Clear The Ball (Defensive End to Attacking End)

The NLL has subtracted two (2) seconds from the time allotted to transition the ball from one teams defensive end to the attacking end of the floor once possession is gained. Failure to clear the ball within eight (8) seconds results in a loss of possession.

Pro’s – Teams are forced to transition the ball quicker from their defensive end into the attacking end. The league will possibly see teams playing a “press” as opposed to substituting offensive players for defensive players as quickly and as early as in years prior.

Con’s – More wasted time outs.

NLL_AllStar 2010 Steenhuis Lacrosse lax
Transition stars like Steenhuis could be that much more vaiuable now!

Opini0n – Not a bad rule.  But, I think the NLL is a little confused.  As it stands now, teams already want to transition the ball from defense to offense as quickly as possible, so they have more of the shot-clock to use on the offensive side of the ball. But if the NLL is trying to force teams to press using a forecheck, they might have accomplished that with this rule change. However, apparently the rule also states, “If the team with possession calls timeout while the eight second count is underway, a new eight second count will begin when play resumes.” Well… when teams call a timeout with a possession of the ball… the 30-shot-clock does not reset… Nor should the 8-second-count. The NLL needs to have some consistency, somewhere, anywhere. The rules would be a good start.

Delay of Game

“Faster transition after a change of possession… When game officials blow the whistle to indicate a loss of possession, the player possessing the ball from the offending club must put the ball down on the turf immediately. A minor penalty will now be called on any player who throws, retains or rolls the ball away that results in a delay of game.” via NLL.com

Pro’s – This is pretty obvious. No bitching, pouting… Drop the ball, get off or go play defense.

Con’s – Refs miss-calling, see opinion!

Opinion – If referees improperly use judgment on this rule, things can blow up quickly. Hopefully, the NLL is CLEAR to officials, teams, and players, both in the pre-season and on the regular season enforcement, with this rule.

Goaltending Equipment

“Better mobility for goaltenders” via NLL.com. “If you’re not cheating, you’re not trying,” as the old saying goes.  And I agree – but only in sports!  But then again, it’s the Pros.  At this point doctoring of the pads is unnecessary, unless for additional protection, which should be reported to the league (heart problems, etc…).  In the NLL goaltenders will now be forced to slim down their equipment. “A reduction in the maximum size of a goaltenders arm, chest and shin pads by one inch each has been put into effect. The changes are expected to improve goaltender’s mobility while not affecting the amount of padding that covers their bodies for safety.” via NLL.com

Pro’s – More goals

Con’s – More goals. Leaving goalies vulnerable to injury.

Opinion = I watch a lot of lacrosse. I try as much as possible to watch with people who have never seen the sport. I have even produced a highlight DVD to expose the masses to the game. About a year ago I gave a copy to my boss (I was working as a lumberjack at the time, no joke).  He loved the DVD, but he commented. “What’s with the goalies? It’s not like they are even trying”!  I am all for strict restrictions on goaltending equipment.  But, reducing the size of the equipment as it currently stands certainly puts goaltenders at risk.  Even though these guys look huge…. and some to alter their equipment, the padding is needed.  I still play, and I play against and with some NLL goalies, I see what they wear and respectively it is not that much.  The nets are already 4′ x 4’9″ as opposed to 4′ x 4’6″ in summer ball.  Reducing goaltending pads at the NLL level is not a fix to the product. This is something the PLPA needs to address about player safety.

Player Substitution Area

Players must now keep both of their feet within the boundaries of his team’s Substitution Area while waiting to enter the playing floor. The Substitution Area for each team is the area of the playing surface that is directly in front of the team’s bench. Players were previously only required to keep one foot in this area.

Pro’s – Keeping the game honest. Reduces unfair advantages.

Con’s – Slows down fast breaks and extra-man opportunities on a fast break.

Opinion – Wait… I thought they wanted more scoring.  This rule single handedly reduces fast-break opportunities.  It does force defenders to hustle off and change faster.  But, not to the effect that it has on slowing down the fast-break opportunity.  Again, “If you’re not cheating, you’re not trying”.  We all try to gain an advantage by running out the gate sooner than we should. The rule isn’t a bad one and I still don’t think this will have the desired outcome the NLL is looking for, but now the NLL definitely needs the third official on the floor, which was eliminated last season after a labour dispute with the Pro Ref Association.

The NHL has a player combine before each season. This combine features the talents of top NHL prospects and allows the NHL to test out new rule changes and concepts before they are added to or eliminated from the NHL rule book. In the past the NHL has also used the AHL and ECHL as testing grounds. The NLL has once again changed something substantial about their product without proper due diligence.

I will be posting a blog series about the state and future concept of professional box lacrosse with a focus on the Canadian game, the NLL, and its history and growth. It will be an in-depth look into my many opinions and discussions with individuals involved at every level of the professional game; players, coaches, executives, owners, and even potential owners.  As we ramp up for the first edition of the blog series, follow me and my box lacrosse lists on Twitter @Fox_Chris for conversation and opinion on the latest in box lacrosse and the NLL.