We've all heard about the new headshot rule (Rule #48.1), but there are other rule changes this season, too - quite a few of them. And while many of these rule changes are just changes or clarifications in wording, there are a few I consider significant enough to discuss.The first such rule change is a change to Rule #69.1 - Interference on the Goalkeeper.
We all remember the Flyers game in the post-season a couple of years ago, when the Flyer shoved the Cap into the Caps' goalie and out of the crease, and then a goal was scored? No more. Under the 2010-11 rulebook, that goal will be disallowed, and it's entirely possible the Flyer involved would get a lovely goalie interference penalty.
Here's the new wording:
69.1 Interference on the Goalkeeper - This rule is based on the premise that an attacking player’s position, whether inside or outside the crease, should not, by itself, determine whether a goal should be allowed or disallowed. In other words, goals scored while attacking players are standing in the crease may, in appropriate circumstances be allowed. Goals should be disallowed only if: (1) an attacking player, either by his positioning or by contact, impairs the goalkeeper’s ability to move freely within his crease or defend his goal; or (2) an attacking player initiates intentional or deliberate contact with a goalkeeper, inside or outside of his goal crease. Incidental contact with a goalkeeper will be permitted, and resulting goals allowed, when
such contact is initiated outside of the goal crease, provided the attacking player has made a reasonable effort to avoid such contact.
The rule will be enforced exclusively in accordance with the on-ice judgement of the Referee(s), and not by means of video replay or review.
For purposes of this rule, “contact,” whether incidental or otherwise, shall mean any contact that is made between or among a goalkeeper and attacking player(s), whether by means of a stick or any part of the body.
The overriding rationale of this rule is that a goalkeeper should have the ability to move freely within his goal crease without being hindered by the actions of an attacking player. If an attacking player enters the goal crease and, by his actions, impairs the goalkeeper’s ability to defend his goal, and a goal is scored, the goal will be disallowed.
If an attacking player has been pushed, shoved, or fouled by a defending player so as to cause him to come into contact with the goalkeeper, such contact will not be deemed contact initiated by the attacking player for purposes of this rule, provided the attacking player has made a reasonable effort to avoid such contact.
If a defending player has been pushed, shoved, or fouled by an attacking player so as to cause the defending player to come into contact with his own goalkeeper, such contact shall be deemed contact initiated by the attacking player for purposes of this rule, and if necessary a penalty assessed to the attacking player and if a goal is scored it would be disallowed.
And I, for one, say it's about time.
There's a new ruling on a minor penalty to the goalkeeper, too.
Minor Penalty to Goalkeeper – A goalkeeper shall not be sent to the penalty bench for an offense which incurs a minor penalty, but instead, the minor penalty shall be served by another member of his team who was on the ice when the offense was committed. This player is to be designated by the Manager or Coach of the offending team through the playing Captain and such substitute shall not be changed.
If the goalkeeper is involved in coincidental penalties being assessed and as a result, his team is required to play shorthanded due to additional penalties assessed to the goalkeeper, the player designated to serve the additional time penalties assessed to the goalkeeper may be any player as designated by the Manager or Coach of the offending team through the playing Captain.
The boldfaced part is new this season. So in the case of coincidental penalties, the player taking the goalie's penalty doesn't have to have been on the ice when it happened; if he's penalized by himself, the player taking the goalie's penalty does have to have been on the ice.
As for equipment:
- Players under 6'6" in height have to adhere to the stick length rules; players over 6'6" in height may apply for an exception, but their stick will be no longer than 65", even if an exception is granted.
- Maximum height of goalie pads is based on the height of the goalie, so we won't see any undersized goalies running around in pads made for a Stretch-sized guy this season.
- They've reduced the size of knee pads from 10" to 9" for goalies (not including any medically-necessary knee stabilizers the goalie may have to wear).
- Protective masks for goalies are now required outright, though masks that are just designed to be puck-stoppers may be disallowed.
- I'm not finding the rule about the extra 1/2" of shoulder padding now required, but there's a blurb about it up on the Caps website - more on this as I get details. But the intent is to add some cushioning between hard shoulder pads and a player's chin, to reduce or eliminate concussions from accidental contact. Good idea.
Puck Out of Bounds
There's new wording on where faceoffs take place when the puck is unplayable.
Paragraph 2 - For a puck that is unplayable due to being lodged in the netting or as a result of it being frozen between opposing players, the resulting face-off shall be at either of the adjacent face-off spots unless in the opinion of the Referee, the stoppage was caused by the attacking team, in which case the resulting face-off shall be conducted in the neutral zone or at the nearest face-off spot in the zone from which the puck was shot, whichever gives the offending team the least amount of territorial advantage.
There's also new wording about TV time-outs, which could get interesting...
Television commercial time-out guidelines are established by the League. However, no commercial time-out is permitted after the scoring of a goal. No commercial time-out is permitted after the calling of an icing infraction, except when a penalty or penalties are assessed that affect the on-ice strength of either team.
So no time-outs after a goal, and no time-outs after an icing (although this latter has been in play for a while now, I thought).
Penalty Shots for Throwing Equipment
Penalty Shot - When any member of the defending team, including the Coach or any non-playing person, throws or shoots any part of a stick or any other object or piece of equipment at the puck or puck carrier in his defending zone,the Referee or Linesman shall allow the play to be completed and if a goal is not scored, a penalty shot shall be awarded to the non-offending team. This shot shall be taken by the player designated by the Referee as the player fouled.
It used to be that only the referee could whistle a play dead if someone threw a piece of gear, but now the linesman can do it too. Interesting new linesman powers!
As for the Illegal Check to the Head penalty, which has been a long time in coming, and I, for one, am glad to see...
Illegal Check to the Head
48.1 Illegal Check to the Head - A lateral or blind side hit to an opponent where the head is targeted and/or the principle point of contact is not permitted.
It's a good rule, but, like many NHL rules, it's very subjective. A lateral or blind side hit - from the side, or from behind - says nothing about a head-on collision where the other guy sees it coming. Fortunately, most players have enough sense to get out of the way of something they can see, so if they don't, it's on the guy being hit, more than on the guy doing the hitting. But I'll be interested to see how well this is enforced. It comes with a major penalty and a game misconduct automatically; there is no minor penalty for an illegal check to the head - and it may come with a match penalty if the referee deems the hit deliberate, though I have not seen many (if any) match penalties handed out.
Two game misconducts for violating this rule result in an automatic one-game suspension, and any subsequent game misconducts increase the suspension by one game, so on the third offense, you get a two-game suspension, the fourth offense is a three-game suspension, and so on. Hopefully that will be a deterrent.
All in all, there aren't a lot of changes to the rules this year, but I consider at least a couple of them to be important. The illegal check to the head penalty (which you will recognize if the referee puts his non-whistle hand up to the side of his head like he's got a headache) will probably need to be tweaked before it's really useful or called properly, but at least they seem to be trying. And nobody can ever again shove a Cap into the Caps' goalie and out of the crease and then score a goal.
That's a win in my book.