Toronto Maple Leafs: About those new faceoff rules

TORONTO, ON - DECEMBER 15: Tyler Bozak
TORONTO, ON - DECEMBER 15: Tyler Bozak /

The Toronto Maple Leafs have been none too pleased with the NHL’s new faceoff rules over the first two games of the preseason.

If you have tuned in to the Toronto Maple Leafs last two games, you’ve likely noticed a recurring trend: Players being thrown out of the faceoff circle on almost every draw.

At the Air Canada Centre on Tuesday night, the fans were on the referees all game, in part for a slew of penalties that saw the Sens and Leafs combine for 20 trips to the sin bin, but also for the ref’s reluctance to drop the puck.

There was one faceoff violation called in the game. It came in the second period, when Kerby Rychel went too far past the hash marks in the circle and was promptly sent to the box.

Although that was the only infraction, almost every draw taken in the contest had one, if not both centremen tossed for violations.

Leafs Head Coach Mike Babcock aired his frustrations after the game, while speaking to Leafs TV and other members of the media:

"“The first night, I was blown away,” Babcock said. “This is what I’d ask you: Is it competitive? You know when you play ball hockey where they slap the stick three times and then take the face-off. That’s what it looks like.“I thought tonight was worse than the first night we played but obviously, they want it this way. It’s still supposed to be a competitive situation and I don’t know if it is anymore.”"

He isn’t the only person that expressed concerns, however. Longtime centre Tyler Bozak was upset with the frequency that he was tossed out on faceoffs:

"“I think I got kicked out of more than I took tonight,” he said to Leafs TV. “It’s going to be a learning curve for everyone so the wingers have to stay out on the circles and the centres have to not cheat at all so everyone’s in the same boat.”"

Bozak played on the power-play as well as even strength on Tuesday night. He won two-thirds of his draws, but the percentage could have been much different if he took all the faceoffs he had been kicked out of.

"“Over the years you learn how to cheat as best as you can. It’s kind of a skill to cheat and get away with it but you can’t anymore, it’s gonna be way different,” Bozak said."

It will be interesting to keep an eye on the new rules as the NHL season progresses. If the first few nights of the preseason are any indication, something will need to change and quickly.

Next: Notes from Leafs training camp

What’s your take on the new faceoff rules? Do you agree or disagree with them? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.