Brendan Shanahan is now in control of the NHL's disciplinary actions in the NHL offices. Along with that comes the implementation/tweaking of rules, and he introduced a couple new items to teams with videos sent to preseason camps.
The rule changes come as no surprise to anybody as they are an attempt to help take out the dangerous hits from hockey, something the NHL has been working on for a few years.
The first rule specifically addresses hits to the head and tries to clarify the rule, make it simpler for the players to follow. Much like the NFL with their hits on defenseless receivers and to the head, there has been plenty of gray area as to what's legal and what's not.
The NHL changed Rule 48 to render illegal all hits where the head is targeted in an intentional and/or reckless way and is the principal point of contact. A minor penalty will be assessed for infractions of this rule and the possibility of supplementary discipline exists.
The referee can use his judgment to determine if the player put himself in a vulnerable position immediately prior to or simultaneous with being hit, as well as if the contact with the head on an otherwise legal body check was avoidable.
"Now, the confusion some of the players have expressed in the past as to what direction they're approaching a player, what direction a player is facing, east, west, north, south, that has all been taken out," Shanahan said. "Anywhere on the ice, coming from any direction, you target the head and make it a principal point of contact, you'll be subject to a two-minute penalty. You'll also be -- as with all two-minute penalties or non-calls -- subject to supplementary discipline."
That does help remove the question marks. Defining it as straight as the head being the principal point of contact is pretty clear.
The other rule that Shanahan and Co. made some changes to are in boarding.
The boarding rule was amended in several ways in order to put the focus on the violent -- and possibly dangerous -- contact with the boards rather than the actual point of contact.
This season, a boarding penalty will be assessed to a player who checks or pushes a defenseless player in a manner that causes the player to have a potentially violent and/or dangerous impact with the boards. The word "pushes" was added to the rule and "defenseless" replaced the word "vulnerable."
The onus now is going to be on the player applying the check to ensure his opponent is not in a defenseless position. If he is, the player applying the hit must avoid or, at the very least, minimize the contact.
"What we did is we took the onus off the violence of the hit itself and added the word 'push' in there," Shanahan said. "It really has more to do with the violence in the collision with the boards. We don't necessarily think it has to be a violent hit to cause a violent crash, so we broadened the rule by putting in the word 'push.'"
These are all a work in progress. But the goal of eliminating the career-threatening hits that we've seen in the NHL is one they will continue to work toward while keeping the integrity of the game and a transparency for the players.
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