It didn't take NHL brawlers long to work around the NHL's new rule prohibiting the removal of a helmet before a fight. They just let the other guy do it.
In Thursday night's preseason game between the Islanders and Devils, Brett Gallant and Krys Barch fought. And fought. And fought again. That's right, they both earned game misconducts for getting into three fights in one game, each against the other of course. It's what happened in the second bout that has people talking.
As the two fighters squared up in a drawn-out prematch ceremony, the unbuckled their chin straps. Nothing against the rules there. Then, before throwing punches, Barch nearly took off his helmet before remembering the rule and placing it back on his head. The two then proceeded to take the helmet off the other player's head and then commence the pounding.
Here, have another look in .GIF form courtesy of Steve Lepore. It's almost cute how they do it.
This was easier to predict than the Flames missing the playoffs this upcoming season. It was such an obvious loophole in the new rule that you knew it wasn't going to be long before players exploited it. Fighters already obey other codes and show plenty of respect. Adding this to the list won't be that hard when the situation calls for it.
How embarassing for the league, though. This rule is in place to try and protect the fighters against their own desires and the fact that they can so easily sidestep it is a real middle finger to the league. But what can the NHL do, penalize a player for his helmet coming off before a fight whether he or the opponent does it? In that case who deserves the punishment in the form of a minor penalty? It's a sticky situation.
Contrary to popular belief, the people that run the NHL are intelligent folks. They had to see this coming. It was so painfully obvious it was going to happen. The question is will the NHL try to do any more to stop it? Regardless, it won't happen soon, so get used to seeing this pre-tango routine.
S/t to Hockey Fights