Proposed "free shot" rule for 1974-1975 NHL season
From the September, 1974 issue of The Hockey News:
Free shots on goal will be awarded by NHL referees this coming season when defending players hold the puck in their own zone. While the free shot must still be approved by the NHL rules committee, President Clarence Campbell and Referee-in-chief Scotty Morrison said they expected no problem in having he rule introduced. The idea is to remove one of hockey's most boring spectacles, that of a defender wedging the puck against he boards to force a faceoff and replace it with an exciting scoring possibility. Basically, a player will take the free shot from either of the two faceoff circles to either side of the goal. Players will line up as usual, except the defending center will not be allowed in the faceoff circle. The referee places the puck on the dot, rather than dropping it.
Now, unless I'm having a massive brain fart here, I don't believe this was ever introduced - even for a short period. Does anyone have more info on this?
I vaguely remember something called a "free faceoff" being mooted at some point long ago. You might do a search on that term. I thought this involved an uncontested faceoff by a player whose teammates could be in motion towards the goal.
It was tried during the exhibition season. The Penguins used to hold their training camp in Brantford during the 70s and held exhibition games at Brantford Arena. I actually saw this happen during a game between the Penguins and the Seals. It was a pretty lame idea and totally interrupted the flow of the game.
I believe there was at least one game where the team being given the shot didn't have any players on the ice who shot from the appropriate side because their feet had to be behind the face-off dot.
[Scotty] Bowman was against the "free shot" proposal when he first confronted it, saying it presented too many problems. Now he likes it.
The "free" shot is just that: If the defending team freezes the puck unnecessarily - in any way - the opposition is given a free shot on goal from the face-off circle at the side of the net.
"I think it's had the desired effect," said Bowman. "It will help the game. It cuts out that needless stalling. Of course," he added with a grin, "that was all right when I was at St. Louis, when we had guys like Al Arbour and Glenn Hall."
Bowman doesn't think the "free shot" trial-rule has much chance of making it, but [Clarence] Campbell says he's in favour of both* and that referee-in-chief Scotty Morrison has recommended strongly to all governors that both be adopted.
"I'm optimistic both will pass," said Campbell. "But if they don't, historically, some of our greatest progress took more than one year anyway. Replacing the penalized player after being scored upon, catching the puck - all those things took a while to adopt."
"Some people," added Campbell of the resistance the new rules are likely to meet, "don't even know what's good for them, anyway."
*Note: "Both refers to the free shot and a proposal against substitutions during play stoppages, except after goals or penalty calls. Both proposals were rejected by a majority of the NHL governors in a October 1st, 1974 vote.