As for the rules, the next change came with an equipment innovation. The curved hockey stick was created by accident. Blackhawk Stan Mikita broke his stick in practice in 1961 and was surprised to discover that it added some zip to his shot. Soon Mikita and teammate Bobby Hull were experimenting with all sorts of curves ranging from slight bends to cartoonish hooks. Hull and Mikita’s high-scoring ways made believers of many and the league soon put a limit on the permitted curvature of the stick. It would take several years before controversy would surface again with the "in the crease" rule that led to many goals being overturned, upon video review, for an opposing player’s presence in the goalies crease. This rule hit a boiling point when the 1999 Stanley Cup final was decided by a Brett Hull goal that was seemingly scored with his foot in the crease. The rule was revised that summer.

The only other major change was the decision to go to a four-on-four overtime in 1999. Each team would be awarded a point for the regulation tie and an additional point for a goal scored in overtime.  

Most rules are changed to reflect a necessary development in the game. However, there is one example where a rule was changed specifically because of one team. Originally, if a team was assessed a penalty, it served the duration of the penalty regardless of goals scored against. That would change.

The Montreal Canadiens of the mid-fifties were a truly dominant team, winning five straight Cups to cap the decade. Their offence was so potent that giving them a power-play almost certainly led to disastrous results. The Canadiens were able to ice players like Maurice and Henri Richard, "Boom Boom" Geoffrion, Doug Harvey and Jean Beliveau. It was not uncommon for the Canadiens to score multiple goals in a single power-play. As a result, the rule was changed in ’56-’57 allowing the offending player to return to the ice following a goal.


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