NHL Changes Rule On Hits To Head

By: Mike Vukovcan

Pittsburgh (KDKA)- The NHL’s new boss in charge of discipline has changed the rules on hits to the head.

Brendan Shanahan has sent videos to all NHL training camps showing the changes.

The first rule specifically addresses hits to the head. Here’s what the league posted on its official website.

The NHL changed Rule 48 to render illegal all hits where the head is targeted in an intentional and/or reckless way and is the principal point of contact. A minor penalty will be assessed for infractions of this rule and the possibility of supplementary discipline exists.

The referee can use his judgment to determine if the player put himself in a vulnerable position immediately prior to or simultaneous with being hit, as well as if the contact with the head on an otherwise legal body check was avoidable.
“Now, the confusion some of the players have expressed in the past as to what direction they’re approaching a player, what direction a player is facing, east, west, north, south, that has all been taken out,” Shanahan said. “Anywhere on the ice, coming from any direction, you target the head and make it a principal point of contact, you’ll be subject to a two-minute penalty. You’ll also be — as with all two-minute penalties or non-calls — subject to supplementary discipline.”

Shanahan has also made changes to the penalty of boarding. Once again, according to the NHL website:

The boarding rule was amended in several ways in order to put the focus on the violent — and possibly dangerous — contact with the boards rather than the actual point of contact.

This season, a boarding penalty will be assessed to a player who checks or pushes a defenseless player in a manner that causes the player to have a potentially violent and/or dangerous impact with the boards. The word “pushes” was added to the rule and “defenseless” replaced the word “vulnerable.”
The onus now is going to be on the player applying the check to ensure his opponent is not in a defenseless position. If he is, the player applying the hit must avoid or, at the very least, minimize the contact.

  • Daniel

    I think head shots of any kind, whether incidental or intentional, should be dealt with an automatic suspension. There is no reason at the level of hockey being played that these guys have to resort to hitting the head. Just like helmet to helmet is unlawful in football, hitting someone’s head in hockey should be as well.

  • http://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2011/09/21/puck-talk-with-popchock-a-preseason-primer/ “Puck Talk with Popchock” – A Preseason Primer « CBS Pittsburgh

    […] John LeClair in his first-ever NHL exhibition game. I’m particularly curious to see if the newly-modified Rule 48 comes into play at all, which basically outlaws intentional headshots of any kind. Hopefully it […]

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