The NHL's 10-member Competition Committee Friday voted to propose a five-minute major penalty and a game misconduct be given to any player guilty of delivering a lateral or blindside hit where the head is the intentional point of contact.
This follows the general managers' unanimous 30-0 vote taken earlier this month at their meeting in Philadelphia to implement the same penalty starting next season.
Before the proposed rule becomes official, however, the NHL Players' Association’s board and the NHL’s Board of Governors have to approve. Both will meet next week, with the NHLPA’s 30 union reps convening Monday and the Board of Governors meeting in Los Angeles Thursday.
NHL Senior Executive Vice President and Director of Hockey Operations Colin Campbell told NHL.com the NHLPA’s reps have to give approval that the five players on the Competition Committee are authorized to propose such a rule to the Board of Governors. He is told that should be a mere formality.
The players in the Competition Committee meeting Friday were Mathieu Schneider, Mike Commodore, David Backes, Chris Clark and Ryan Miller.
"We jumped a hurdle, but we have to get around the puddle before we jump the last hurdle," Campbell said. "[The players at the meeting] said it should be no problem, we just have to get it rubber stamped. The PA has to accept it and I understand it has to go back to their whole group of 700 players (to get approval)."
The Board of Governors has the authority to make rule changes no matter if they are recommended by the GMs or the Competition Committee, but the feeling is that as long as the NHLPA goes forward on this and the GMs remain steadfast in wanting the rule that the Board will grant its final approval Thursday, putting the rule into effect starting next season.
The Board already approved in March making these blindside hits to the head punishable by supplemental discipline.
Hits to the head became a topic during the season stemming from Mike Richards' hit on David Booth on Oct. 24 and Matt Cooke’s shot on Marc Savard on March 7. Nothing written in the rulebook suggested Campbell could take action on such hits, but with approval those types of hits would now be penalized by the on-ice officials and subject to supplemental discipline.
"My hope and my expectation is that the Competition Committee would recommend this on behalf of the players and that it would receive Board approval," said Toronto GM and President Brian Burke, who attended the Competition Committee Friday, along with fellow GMs Ken Holland, Jim Rutherford and David Poile, plus Flyers owner Ed Snider.
If approved, Campbell said the League will have to "instruct the referees and the players on what we’re doing now. They need to know before the first exhibition game."
In other business, the Competition Committee approved new rules on form-fitting goaltender equipment and playing the Heritage Classic at McMahon Stadium in Calgary on Feb. 20 between the Flames and Montreal Canadiens, but that is also subject to approval by the NHLPA.
The NHL will release the schedule for the 2010-11 season on Tuesday.