Earlier this week I brought up a couple of issues with the new rules that I saw as problematic. Today, I was able to speak with John Hind, the Chair of the Men’s Rules Committee, and he cleared the issues up for me quickly, concisely, and in a very friendly tone. It was a great conversation, and I learned a ton in only 15 minutes.
Let’s take a look at the rules one by one…
1) 3.5″ Shaft Circumference
This rule is OUT. Players can once again use butt ends, donuts, tape snakes or whatever they want. The only restriction is that the tape on the stick can NOT touch the plastic of the head, unless the player in question is a goalie. They are exempt from the tape rules. There must be a gap between the head and the tape for all other players. Simple, easy, and effective. Well, unless you are a face off guy…
2) Face Off Sticks
Players that take face offs must put contrasting colored tape on their shaft. There can be no tape build up six inches down the shaft from the plastic head. The tape must be comprised of a single layer. The reasoning here is that thicker tape for face off players could allow them to increase leverage. The contrasting tape helps refs identify players that are “handling” the ball (with their hands), and helps to show when a player’s hand is touching the plastic. Basically, if you can’t see the contrasting colored tape, it’s a violation.
3) Back Test Is Gone
The Committee decided that the shooting string rule, and the single sidewall rule were enough to create a wider set of pockets. The concern here was that face off guys, or anyone who had a slightly bent stick from play, could fail the back test too easily, even if their stick was usually legal. The Committee did not want to senselessly penalize players, so the back test was retracted.
I still like the Back Test Rule, and wish that the NCAA were keeping it, as I think it was the most extreme answer to the perceived problem. However, the Committee took a realistic approach to this issue, and is taking coaches’ concerns into account. If players start to create pockets where the ball doesn’t fall out again, I could see the Committee taking another look at the rule down the road, as being able to dislodge the ball freely correlates strongly to issues of player safety, which is a major concern of the Committee.
As many have said before, and many will probably say going forward, this is not a one-time solution, and it probably isn’t the end of rule changes altogether. The Committee will continue to look at the game, pace of play, and player safety, and new rules could emerge in the future. The true bright spot here is how willing the Committee is to vet its own decisions, and how willing they are to discuss it. That bodes well for the future of our game.
If there is an issue YOU are still struggling with, let us know in the comments and we’ll do our best to answer it for you…