Chirps from Center Ice

A fan blog about the AHL's Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins

Thursday Notebook 7/7

Couple more things of note this week as, for the beginning of July, it’s been busy.

The run on signings by Coal Street continue. After announcing Casey DeSmith on Tuesday, the Penguins announced they have re-signed Adam Krause on Wednesday and Sahir Gill on Thursday.

Down Interstate 81, Hershey announced the re-signings of Dustin Gazley and Ryan Bourque to AHL deals. In addition, they announced they have signed G Parker Milner and D Hubert Labrie to AHL deals. Milner had gaudy numbers playing in the ECHL for the Missouri Mavericks last season, the Mavericks were a very good team. Labrie has bounced around from team to team and is a third pair defender. Hershey also announced they have re-signed Joey Leach and Dominic Monardo. Monardo was with the Bears in their playoff run.

Pittsburgh signed Garrett Wilson on Thursday. Wilson, who was not ranked in the Top 100 of the AHL Big Board, played 29 NHL games last season with Florida. He had 38 points with San Antonio in 2014-15. Expect him to be the first or second call-up for Pittsburgh next season once the inevitable injury bug starts biting the Stanley Cup Champions.

Ex-Penguin Matt Carkner announced his retirement.

The annual Board of Governors meeting wrapped up this week in Hilton Head, South Carolina. With this, normally comes realignment and rules changes. This year was no different. From the release, the divisions look like this heading into 2016-17:

Penguins remain in the same division with the same divisional foes, sans Portland, who is now Springfield, who is now Tucson, playing 68 games in the Pacific Division.

If I was running things, I would keep all 68 game teams (every team in the Pacific except San Antonio and Texas) in their own division, I’d move San Antonio and Texas to the Central and move Lake Erie to the North Division and Charlotte to the East. But that’s just me editorializing.

Other rule changes include,

Playing Schedule/Standings 

• The 2016-17 regular season will consist of 1,116 games, played between Oct. 12 and Apr. 16. All teams will play 76 games each with the exception Bakersfield, Ontario, San Diego, San Jose, Stockton and Tucson, who will play 68 games each. The full league schedule will be announced later this summer.

• Teams will receive two points for a win and one point for an overtime or shootout loss. The top four teams in each division ranked by points percentage (points earned divided by points available) will qualify for the 2017 Calder Cup Playoffs.

• The 2017 Calder Cup Playoffs will feature a divisional playoff format, leading to conference finals and ultimately the Calder Cup Finals. The division semifinals are best-of-five series; all subsequent rounds are best-of-seven.

• Teams will wear light jerseys at home until the Christmas break, and dark jerseys at home after the Christmas break.

Rule 46 (“Fighting”)/Rule 23 (“Game Misconducts”) 
• Players who enter into a fight prior to, at, or immediately following the drop of the puck for a faceoff will be assessed an automatic game misconduct in addition to other penalties assessed.

• During the regular season, any player who incurs his 10th fighting major shall be suspended automatically for one (1) game. For each subsequent fighting major up to 13, the player shall also be suspended automatically for one (1) game.

• During the regular season, any player who incurs his 14th fighting major shall be suspended automatically for two (2) games. For each subsequent fighting major, the player shall also be suspended automatically for two (2) games.

• In any instance where the opposing player was assessed an instigator penalty, the fighting major shall not count towards the player’s total for this rule.

Rule 82 (“Icing”)
• 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.

Rule 1.10 (“Ice Cleaning”)
• The ice cleaning procedures used during promotional timeouts will also be used prior to overtime during the regular season, replacing the “dry scrape.”

In layman’s terms:

– No more crossover. The top four teams in each division make playoffs, based off of percentage. This will have no bearing on the Eastern Conference teams since they all play the same amount of games.

– White jerseys at home until Christmas then black, or dark jerseys, from there on out. They do this in the ECHL. I think it is a dumb rule and the Leagues meddling with things better left alone.

– No more time outs after icings. Another dumb rule. Teams will find a way around this. A goaltenders pad may fall off. A skate blade may fall off. A stick will break. Something.

– No more dry scrape. This I like. There was no standard from AHL arena to AHL arena on how exactly to clean the ice after overtime. Some places it would last up to 5 minutes. Now, the off-ice crew will simply shovel away the snow in the attacking zones like they do at the 14, 10 and 6 minute stoppages during the period. You’ll be in and out of games in a jiffy.

– The other rule involves convoluted words regarding fighting. Gone are the staged fights. If you do that you are thrown out of the game. Once you fight ten times, you are suspended a game. Do it again up to 13 times, and you are suspended again. After your fourteenth fight and every fight after that, you are suspended for two games. If you are in a fight and the guy gets an instigator that fights you, that fight does not count towards the ten that gets you sat a game.

If the League is going to trip over itself sideways to implement these rules to curb fighting, it should simply just be banned. Fight once and get an automatic ten games. Make it simple. You obviously want to eliminate this aspect of the game, so simply come out and do it, rather than confusing the common fan that doesn’t understand why staged fights are gone.

I’ll have updates to the AHL Big Board and my 2016 Offseason Moves List later this evening. Have a nice weekend if there isn’t a Friday Coal Street Signing worth firing the blog up over.

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