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With the beginning of the NHL season this week, ECHL fans may be wondering which new rules will affect their teams when training camps open this weekend.
The ECHL has decided not to use the hybrid icing rule, nor is the league instituting shallower nets to create more room behind the goals. The cost of replacing the current goals was $1,000 apiece, though ECHL Vice President of Hockey Operations Joe Ernst said the new nets might be considered for the 2014-15 season.
The rule change that has received the most national publicity also will not be enforced in the ECHL. In an attempt to increase scoring, the NHL is forcing goaltenders to use pads that are shorter in height.
"We have yet to determine goalie equipment as there are lots of unanswered questions on it,'' Ernst said. "It's mainly with players coming up from other leagues due to recalls and injury. Most leagues below, including all three Canadian junior leagues, are not using new dimensions this year. The board will vote on it once we gather all information and present to them, but I would say it won't happen before beginning of new year at the earliest if at all.''
The one rule that will affect the ECHL is the new minor penalty for players who remove their helmets before entering fights. The NHL is worried about players hitting their heads on the ice as a result of fights.
"I guess I better get good at wrestling then,'' Komets forward Kaleigh Schrock said with a laugh. "Helmets are going to come off during a fight, and now you are going to have more guys breaking their hands throwing punches. Also, more guys are probably going to fight because there's not as much risk involved. Wouldn't you be more likely to get in a fight if you can wear a helmet as opposed to not wearing a helmet?''
The NHL is also requiring any player with fewer than 25 NHL games to wear visors. Players in the minors have always had to wear visors. If players are not allowed to take off their helmets before fights, won't players tear up their hands when they hit the visors?
"It hurts if you hit their visor,'' Schrock said. "The trick you try to do is when you grab onto them is grab the back of their helmet and pull it off.''
Schrock said players will likely unstrap their helmets before fighting to allow their helmets to fall off naturally. There is currently no penalty if players remove their opponents' helmets before or during fights. Schrock also said he's guessing most players who want to fight will just take the extra two minutes in penalties and remove their own helmets.
Almost all the Komets who took part in NHL or American Hockey League training camps have been released from their teams and will be in Fort Wayne by the time training camp starts Sunday.
Matt Firman was with the Chicago Wolves, Mickey Lang with Lake Erie, John Muse with Providence and Joe Hartman with Grand Rapids in the AHL. Cody Reichard tried out with Nashville in the NHL. Rookie defenseman Drew Olson tried out with Tampa Bay of the NHL and then was sent to Syracuse of the AHL which wants to sign him. That's one reason the Komets have invited defenseman William Lacasse to training camp.
Training camp opens Sunday morning with two practices and continues with an afternoon scrimmage at Memorial Coliseum. The sessions are not open to the public. The first of three exhibition games is Wednesday at Wheeling. The Komets play at Kalamazoo on Oct. 11 before hosting Wheeling on Oct. 12. The regular season starts Oct. 19 at home against Toledo.