Following the conclusion of the AHL Board of Governors meeting at Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, the league announced new rules, scheduling, and division alignment.
The four divisions for AHL hockey will look like this next season (NHL Affiliates in parentheses).
Bridgeport Sound Tigers (New York Islanders)
Hartford Wolf Pack (New York Rangers)
Hershey Bears (Washington Capitals)
Lehigh Valley Phantoms (Philadelphia Flyers)
Providence Bruins (Boston Bruins)
Springfield Thunderbirds (Florida Panthers)
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (Pittsburgh Penguins)
Albany Devils (New Jersey Devils)
Binghamton Senators (Ottawa Senators)
Rochester Americans (Buffalo Sabres)
St. John’s IceCaps (Montreal Canadiens)
Syracuse Crunch (Tampa Bay Ligthning)
Toronto Marlies (Toronto Maple Leafs)
Utica Comets (Vancouver Canucks)
Charlotte Checkers (Carolina Hurricanes)
Chicago Wolves (St. Louis Blues)
Grand Rapids Griffins (Detroit Red Wings)
Iowa Wild (Minnesota Wild)
Lake Erie Monsters (Columbus Blue Jackets)
Manitoba Moose (Winnipeg Jets)
Milwaukee Admirals (Nashville Predators)
Rockford IceHogs (Chicago Blackhawks)
Bakersfield Condors (Edmonton Oilers)
Ontario Reign (Los Angeles Kings)
San Antonio Rampage (Colorado Avalanche)
San Diego Gulls (Anaheim Ducks)
San Jose Barracuda (San Jose Sharks)
Stockton Heat (Calgary Flames)
Texas Stars (Dallas Stars)
Tucson Roadrunners (Arizona Coyotes)
The regular season will consist of 76 games for every team, with the exception of Bakersfield, Ontario, San Diego, San Jose, Stockton, and Tucson. Those listed teams will play 68 regular season games.
The best guess on why the California and Arizona teams get to play fewer games is travel. Not sure how happy San Antonio and Texas — who are playing the normal 76 — are about this arrangement, as they are in the same division as the California teams.
Home teams, up until the Christmas break, will wear light colored jerseys like they did this past season. However, after the Christmas break, dark jerseys will be worn at home.
Three major rule changes will go in effect next year; I’ll save the most likely to enrage one for last.
Rule 82, “Icing,” has been changes to read as such: “In addition to not being permitted to make player substitutions, the offending team on an icing violation also may not use its team time-out.” This is likely to increase scoring, but means player injuries are more likely in the plays immediately following icings.
Rule 1.10, “Ice Cleaning,” has been modified as such: “The ice cleaning procedures used during promotional timeouts will also be used prior to overtime during the regular season, replacing the ‘dry scrape.'” Translation: instead of the zamboni cleaning the ice after regulation, the AHL will do what the NHL does and send out the shoveling crew.
And now for Rule 46, “Fighting,” and Rule 23 “Game Misconducts,” violations.
- Starting a fight before, at, or immediately after a faceoff will result in an automatic game misconduct for both combatants.
- During the regular season, after a players 10th, 11th, 12th, and 13th fight, he will be suspended automatically for one game. The new rule does not specify what happens if fights 10 and 11, let’s say, occur in the same game.
- From the 14th fight onward, the player will be suspended automatically for two games.
- However, should the opposing player be assessed an instigator penalty, the fighting major will not count toward the player’s total for the previous rule. For the instigator, the fight will count.
According to hockeyfights.com, the AHL had 703 fights during the regular season. 22 players had 10 or more fights, eight of them dropped gloves 14 times or more. This is one way to address the “fighting in hockey” question inundating talk shows and discussion threads; whether it is a plausible solution remains a mystery.