When the NHL introduced a new rule this season penalizing players two minutes for removing their helmet prior to a fight, it was immediately clear the players found a workaround. Krys Barch and Brett Gallant simply removed their opponent's helmet for them, something we saw a couple of times.
It made the NHL look bad, players obviously defying the new rule that's meant for safety and essentially mocking the league in the process. Something needed to be done.
Apparently the NHL has found its solution, at least for the time being. More onus will be put on the linesmen now, per TSN's Darren Dreger.
NHL linesmen have been instructed to stop a fight when the participants opt to remove their helmets prior to swapping blows.
This isn't a rule change, simply a common sense approach to encourage players to protect their head at all times.
There is nothing formal about this strategy. It was implemented shortly after the preseason where it became evident players weren't concerned about the additional two-minute penalty for removing their helmets to fight ... even though the rule was introduced entirely for player safety.
Linesmen now have the authority to step in, when it is safe to do so, and stop a fight when the combatants purposely take off their helmets.
Especially on the fly, this is as good of a solution as anything. Whether they like it or not, the NHL is not going to simply relent on this rule, it's there for good reason. Having players work around it was not only bad for the league but was simply helping to continue a dangerous practice.
It seems like only a matter of time before pop-up visors become a common thing in the NHL with visors being grandfathered in.