CHICAGO -- The National Hockey League Board of Governors approved a variety of rule changes pertaining to the curvature of players' sticks.
The maximum curvature of a player's stick was increased to three-quarters of an inch. Previously, the maximum curvature had been one-half inch.
During regulation time or overtime (but not shootouts), a player found to have a stick curved in excess of that amount would be assessed a minor penalty and a $200 fine for the first offense. A second offense in the same season would be accompanied by a minor penalty, plus a fine of $1,000. A third offense in the same season would draw a game misconduct penalty and an automatic one-game suspension. The suspension would double in length for any subsequent violation in the same season.
During shootouts, an opposing Club may request measurement of a shooter's stick prior to the shooter's attempt. If the stick is found to be legal, the complaining Club would forfeit its next shootout attempt and the player listed for the challenging Club's next attempt would not be permitted to participate until all other eligible players have participated. The Club would be fined $5,000 and the Club's coach would be fined $1,000. If the stick is illegal, the offending player would become ineligible to participate in the shootout and the Club would forfeit that shootout attempt. The Club would be fined $5,000 and the player would be fined $1,000.
The Board also approved enhanced measures against "diving" and embellishment of actions in the attempt to draw a penalty. The first such infraction would result in a warning letter being sent to the player or goalkeeper. A second infraction would be accompanied by a $1,000 fine. A third infraction would result in a telephone hearing with the Director of Hockey Operations and a possible one-game suspension. The length of the suspension would double for any subsequent violation.
The Board also approved a rule change that will give the home team the choice of shooting first or second in the shootout.