American Hockey League President and CEO David Andrews announced today that the league’s Board of Governors has overwhelmingly approved the continuation of AHL Rule 31(j) for the duration of the 2004-05 regular season and the Calder Cup 2005 Playoffs.
The rule restricts the areas where goaltenders may play the puck in an attempt to increase offensive opportunities without wholly eliminating a goaltender’s ability to assist his defensemen. In July, the AHL announced the implementation of a test for the first seven weeks of the regular season. Two lines were painted on the ice, beginning six feet from either goal post along the goal line and extending back to the end boards on diagonals to points 28 feet apart.
Goaltenders are not permitted to play any puck behind the goal line that is outside this trapezoid; violation of this rule results in a minor penalty for delay of game against the goaltender.
The decision to extend the test was made following consultation with players, coaches and management from throughout the league. The AHL will re-evaluate the results at the end of the season to determine whether the rule’s application will continue further.
In operation since 1936, the American Hockey League serves as the top development league for all 30 National Hockey League clubs. More than 100 alumni recently competed in the 2004 World Cup of Hockey tournament, and over 80 percent of all players to compete in the NHL in 2003-04 were AHL graduates, with more than 400 players taking the ice in both leagues.