The NHL's Hockey Operations Department hosted a two-day meeting on August 21-22, 2012 at the League Office in Toronto to discuss the standard of enforcement by NHL on-ice officials. Among those in attendance were representatives from the NHL and NHLPA offices; team general managers, coaches and players; and on-ice officials.
Over the course of two days the group discussed:
1) Interference (Rule 56)
2) Face-off Interference (Rule 56)
3) Holding (Rule 54)
4) Hooking (Rule 55)
5) Slashing (Rule 61)
6) Broken Stick Slashes (Rule 61)
7) Embellishment (Rule 64)
8) Attainable Pass (Rule 81.5)
Following is an explanation of each area of discussion with video examples of each play.
Interference (Rule 56)
The consensus was that defenders should be allowed to engage/bump/hit an attacking player "immediately" after they released the puck on a dump in, but would be expected to release the attacker and pursue the puck or retreat to the slot following this initial contact. The same standard would be applied regardless of whether or not the attacking player was knocked down. Various time and space guidelines were discussed. However, it ultimately was decided that the "immediacy" of the contact had to be a determination made by the officials on a case by case basis. The measuring stick of 1/2 a second, occasionally used by Hockey Operations/Player Safety to determine lateness, was also mentioned as a guideline.
The most discussed forecheck interference plays were:
1) Example 1 Doughty on Whitney. It was determined that the initial bump had been immediate in this instance, but that a penalty was warranted because the defender had failed to release his opponent and elected to take an indirect route to the puck in order to impede the attacker.
2) Example 2 Karlsson on Hagelin. It was determined that this was a legal play, even though the defender appeared to leave his lane to engage the attacker, because the contact had been immediate. The feeling was that defenders should be rewarded for maintaining a tight gap.
3) Example 3 Brendan Smith on Gordon. It was determined that this was a legal play, even though the defender used his body to impede the attacker by shielding him from the puck, because the defender took a direct route to the puck in an effort to make a play on the puck.
4) Example 4 Orpik on Read. It was determined that this play warranted a minor penalty because the defender's gap was too wide and contact with the attacker had not been "immediate".
Faceoff Interference (Rule 56)
The consensus was that the faceoff interference standard was in a good place. If contact between players was immediate and did not continue once the faceoff was complete, battles were acceptable.
The most discussed faceoff interference plays were:
1) Example 1 Alzner on Anisimov. It was determined that this was a legal play. The initial bump by the defender was immediate and he did not pin or hold the attacking player. Had the attacking player made more of an effort to fight through the initial bump, the defender would have been expected to release him.
2) Example 2 Zubrus on Williams. It was determined that this was an illegal play because, while the initial contact had been immediate, the offensive player remained engaged with the defensive player for too long following the completion of the faceoff.
3) Example 3 Parise on Brown. It was determined that this was a legal play because two players, lined up beside one another, immediately engaged and a battle resulted from both attempting to make a play on the puck.
Holding (Rule 54)
The consensus was that the appropriate standard was being applied in relation to holding and that obvious holding penalties were being called consistently.
The most discussed holding plays were:
1) Example 1 Stoll on Jackman. It was determined that this was a legal play. Stoll was deemed to have used his free hand to push, rather than restrain, and the group agreed that this was allowed.
2) Example 2 Toews on Getzlaf. It was determined that this was a legal play. Again, the player was deemed to have used his free hand to push, rather than restrain.
3) Example 3 Michalek on Malkin. It was determined that this was an illegal play, because the defending player used his free hand to restrain the attacking player and gain body position. It was, however, the feeling of the group that had the defending player used only his stick hand to fend off the attacking player's attempts at protecting the puck with his free hand, this would have been a legal play. The group felt that players should be allowed to battle, but not to gain body position, a competitive advantage or restrain an opponent with their hand.
Hooking (Rule 55)
The consensus was that the appropriate standard was being applied in relation to hooking.
The most discussed hooking play was:
1) Example 1 Parise on Wilson. It was determined that this was a legal stick lift. The observation was made that players were more likely to be penalized for hooking when they reached and had no chance at making a play on the puck.
Slashing (Rule 61)
The group felt that slashes to the hand area were increasingly being used as a tactic by defenders to disrupt offensive players. The consensus was that officials no longer had to be certain that contact had been made with the hands (as opposed to the stick) in deciding whether or not to assess a slashing minor.
The most discussed slashing plays were:
1) Example 1 Nystrom on Havlat. This is an example of a light slash in the hand area that should be called moving forward.
2) Example 2 Stamkos on Malkin. This was discussed as an example of slashing for the sole purpose of disrupting an offensive player. The defensive player made no attempt to play the puck in this instance. Accordingly, a penalty should be called.
3) Example 3 Greening on Stamkos. It was determined that this was an illegal play. The defensive player used slashes to the hand area to disrupt the attacking player, making no attempt to play the puck.
4) Example 4 Park on Tavares. This was cited as an example of a play that should be penalized even though there had not been contact with the hands. The offensive player's stick was broken on this play, but the consensus was that this should be a penalty either way.
Broken Stick Slashes (Rule 61)
The group did not believe there should be an automatic penalty for slashes when the result was a broken stick, but agreed that the vast majority of these plays should be penalized. The feeling was there was room for judgment in the application of this rule, but when players slashed at the stick of an opponent they ran the risk of breaking it and should usually be penalized because their actions rendered an opponent useless.
The most discussed broken stick slashing plays were:
1) Example 1 Ebbett on Boyle. It was determined that this was one of the few instances in which a player should not be penalized for breaking the stick of an opponent. The consensus was that this slash was not forceful and that there must have been issues with the integrity of the stick.
2) Example 2 Gagner on Backes. It was determined that this was an illegal play. Even though the slash was not a violent one, the defensive player was not making an attempt to play the puck and rendered an opponent useless by hacking at his stick.
Diving / Embellishment (Rule 64)
Rule 64.2 – Minor Penalty – A minor penalty shall be imposed on a player who attemps to draw a penalty by his actions (“diving / embellishment”).
The Group agreed there should be a heightened awareness by officials and a stricter standard of enforcement applied to embellishment. Simply stated…more 2 + 2's should be assessed.
The most discussed embellishment plays were:
1) Example 1 Malkin. It was determined that this play should have been a minor for both interference and diving. The belief was that assessing two minor penalties, instead of simply allowing play to continue, would be an important step in addressing the embellishment issue.
2) Example 2 Wingels. It was determined that two players should have been penalized on this play, one for hooking and one for diving.
3) Example 3 Letang. This was viewed as embellishment, likely to be missed on the ice, that should be addressed after the fact with a warning or a fine.
Attainable Pass (Rule 81.5)
At our most recent Officials' Training Camp (September 11, 2012), we have instructed our officials to follow the below direction:
81.5 – No Icing (Paragraph 6)
The Linesman shall have discretion to wave off apparent icing infractions on attempted passes if those passes are deemed receivable (attainable). In order for the Linesman to wash out the icing for this reason, the receiving player's stick must be on the attacking side of the center red line, the attempted pass must be within reach and the puck on the ice, the player must make a legitimate effort to play the puck, and he must be eligible to receive the pass (e.g. he cannot be in an off-side position and cannot be involved in a player change that would result in a too many men on the ice penalty if he were to play the puck).
Icing is called when:
• player turns the wrong way
• player has only one hand on the stick
• player refuses to touch or attempt to play the puck
• the puck is out of reach of the player's stick
• puck is in the air at the instant you are determining whether or not the pass is attainable
• when the boards (not the ice) causes the puck to bounce or skip over the player's stick
• player not over the center red line or not eligible to play the puck (line change, off-side)
Icing is waived off when:
• player touches the puck over the center red line
• player attempts to play it (within reach, two hands on the stick)
• when a saucer pass is used or the puck is passed through the air, the puck must be on the ice at the time you determine the pass is attainable
• the ice causes the pass to skip over his stick
Note: The rule is attainable pass, NOT attainable shot. Player must make a LEGITIMATE EFFORT to play the puck.
The National Hockey League's Board of Governors, at its annual June meeting, approved changes to two rules. Rule 67 – Handling Puck implements a minor penalty for use of the gloved hand to "conceal" the puck or prevent an opponent from playing it. Rule 76 – Face-Off implements a minor penalty for a player taking a face-off using his hand to direct the puck.
Rule 67 - Handling Puck
67.2 Minor Penalty – Player
A player shall be permitted to catch the puck out of the air but must immediately place it or knock it down to the ice. If he catches it and skates with it, either to avoid a check or to gain a territorial advantage over his opponent, a minor penalty shall be assessed for "closing his hand on the puck."
New, approved wording in italics:
Any time a player places his hand over the puck while it is on the ice in order to conceal it from or prevent an opponent from playing the puck, a minor penalty shall be assessed for "closing his hand on the puck." When this is done in his own team's goal crease area, a penalty shot shall be assessed (67.4) or a goal awarded (67.5).
A minor penalty shall be imposed on a player who, while play is in progress, picks up the puck off the ice with his hand.
Rule 76 - Face-off
76.4 Procedure - Centers:
Both players facing-off are prohibited from batting the puck with their hand in an attempt to win the face-off. Any attempt by either center to win the face-off by batting the puck with their hand shall result in a minor penalty. This penalty shall be announced as a "Minor Penalty for Delay of Game - Face-off Violation." Once the face-off is deemed complete (and winner of the face-off is clear), hand passes shall be enforced as per Rule 79.