As the NHL's first preseason games start Tuesday, the League's Hockey Operations Department sent a video
to all 30 clubs' general managers, coaches and players explaining new rule changes and points of emphasis for the 2010-11 regular season. The most visible change, of course, involves hits to the head.
The Board of Governors, General Managers and the Competition Committee unanimously agreed that "a lateral or blind side hit to an opponent where the head is targeted and/or the principle point of contact is not permitted." On March 25, the League implemented the rule for the remainder of the 2009-10 season. The rule only provided for supplemental discipline.
Following is the language for Rule 48 as it relates to the upcoming preseason and regular season: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.48.2 Minor Penalty
- There is no provision for a minor penalty for this rule.48.3 Major Penalty
- For a violation of this rule, a major penalty shall be assessed (see 48.4).48.4 Game Misconduct
- An automatic game misconduct penalty shall be assessed whenever a major penalty is assessed under this rule.48.5 Match Penalty
- The Referee, at his discretion, may assess a match penalty if, in his judgment, the player attempted to or deliberately injured his opponent with an illegal check to the head.
48.6 Fines and Suspensions
- Any player who incurs a total of two (2) game misconducts under this rule, in either regular League or playoff games, shall be suspended automatically for the next game his team plays. For each subsequent game misconduct penalty the automatic suspension shall be increased by one game
If deemed appropriate, supplementary discipline can be applied by the Commissioner at his discretion (refer to Rule 28).
The intention of the video is to make head hits rule perfectly clear to teams, coaches and players alike. Plus, the video outlines other areas of emphasis for officials as clubs drop the puck this week in anticipation of Opening Night Oct. 7.