Hello Muddah: Greetings from NHL Research and Development Camp

Yep puckheads. It’s still summer. I just checked. The hockey news well is still running dry. Speculation continues into the cause of death for Rick Rypien and his rumored mental health issues. Waiting for Drew Doughty and the LA Kings to come to a contract agreement is like watching one of Conan O’Brien and Andy Richter’s old fashioned staring contests. In other contract non-news, I haven’t heard a peep about Cory Stillman since the State of the Canes address back in July. I am expecting a retirement announcement but when?

Meanwhile in Etobicoke, Ontario this week, thirty-six top prospects for the 2012 entry draft are attending camp. Campers aren’t canoeing, hiking and making crafts while staying in cabins on Lake Ontario. They are attending the NHL Research, Development and Orientation Camp. The camp, first held in 2005, was revived last year and serves as a laboratory to test out proposed changes to NHL rules. Brendan Shanahan, NHL’s Senior Vice-President of Player Safety and Hockey Operations is running the show.


Wednesday’s camp included sessions on no-touch icing, faceoff variations, shallow-back nets and the removal of the trapezoid. Camp continues on Thursday with more icing experiments including hybrid-icing and overtime and shootout variations such as a 3-man shoot out with repeat shooters if tied after 3 shooters. The complete camp agenda can be found on NHL.com.

A lot of these rules are hard for me to form opinions on without seeing them in action. For now I am just trying to recall the rules I already know. I can however envision the “bear hug rule”, which is loosely translated into “Ok buddy. Hold on. We’re going into the boards.” Interestingly, Toronto GM Brian Burke is a big proponent of the “bear hug rule.” Brian Burke isn’t the kind of guy that really screams “huggable.” With luck, this will be the only type of bear the campers encounter while in the hockey wilderness.

People hold strong views on hockey rules especially the shootout. While the NHL is looking at variations, some fans, GM’s and players would like to do away with it all together. I rather enjoy the shootout, but that is probably because Jussi “The Juice” Jokinen is on my team.

Oddly enough the rule I strongly don’t want to be implemented is allowing hand passes in all zones. I don’t want to watch a handball match. If I do I will tune into MSNBC’s: Lockup. From what I have seen, handball is very popular in prison yards.

It remains to be seen what rule changes, if any, will come out the R&D camp. Having an environment in which to test them out before implementation shows how great of a sport hockey is. Too bad they didn’t have this camp before the introduction of the FoxTrax “glow puck.”

Camp wraps up on Thursday afternoon with a skills competition. Although the agenda lists the fastest skater challenge, there is no word on whether it will include netminders. Hopefully the guys can have a little fun, blow off some steam and get out those last chirps before heading their separate ways.

Have any thoughts on the shootout or other proposed rule changes you would like to see? Have any Cory Stillman sitings to report? Leave us a comment!

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Tags: Andy Richter Bear Hug Rule Brendan Shanahan Camp Granada Conan O'Brien Cory Stillman Development And Orientation Camp Drew Doughty Faceoff Variations FoxTrax Glow Puck Good Old Fashioned Staring Content Hockey Operations Hybrid-icing LA Kings MSBC: Lockup NHL Proposed Rule Changes NHL Research NHL Rule Changes NHL Rules No Touch Icing Rick Rypien Senior Vice-President Player Safety And Hockey Operations Shanny Shootout Shootout Variations State Of The Canes

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