New Rules: Yay! Or Nay?

Colin Campbell, NHL Executive Vice President and Director of Hockey Operations, was interviewed regarding the new set of rules. Here is the interview:www.nhl.com

Q: How will the “hurry-up” face-off procedure work?

A: The line change procedure does not necessarily start the instant the whistle is blown to stop play. Once all is clear, the Visiting Team will have five seconds to change up to all five of its skaters. Players must move towards the face-off location quickly. Once the Referee in the neutral zone is satisfied that the Visiting Team is done with its player changes, he raises his arm, signaling that the Home Team now has eight seconds to make its player changes. The Referee then will lower his arm, indicating no more changes can be made. The Linesman then blows his whistle, indicating the face-off will be conducted in five seconds.

Q: What if teams don’t follow the procedures?

A: If a Team puts too many players on the ice or attempts to change after its time is up, players are sent back to the bench and a warning is issued to the team’s Coach. Once the warning is issued, further violation will result in a bench minor penalty for delay of game. If players are slow getting to the face-off location and are not on-side for the face-off following the five-second whistle by the Linesman, the players’ team is warned for the first violation. For the second violation, a bench minor penalty is assessed for delaying the game.

Q: What happens in the last two minutes of regulation time and in overtime?

A: The line change process will still be followed respecting the timelines, but players will be given reasonable time to set up for the face-off (e.g. no whistle by linesman signifying five seconds until puck drop). Teams making slow line changes or Teams attempting late changes are still subject to a bench minor penalty if they had been warned earlier in the game.

Q: What about the face-off itself?

A: Face-offs are a very important part of our game, and it is a priority that the integrity of the face-off be maintained, even with the new, faster line changes. So the centers must be properly positioned, with their sticks on the ice, within five seconds and all other players must be on-side and outside the circle.

Q: If they aren’t?

A: The only players who are supposed to be inside the circle are the centers who are facing off; the other players are supposed to be outside the circle, on the correct sides of the hash marks. If other players encroach into the circle, or if they enter the area between the hash marks, or if they make physical contact with an opponent, those are all violations. It’s also a violation if the center doesn’t have his stick on the ice in the white area inside the face-off dot.

For the first violation observed by any of the four officials on the ice, the offending team’s center is ejected. For the second violation during the same stoppage, the center is ejected and a bench minor penalty is assessed.

Q: Let’s move on to interference. First, what is the definition Referees will use for obstruction?

A: We want a forechecker to be able to pursue and pressure the puck. We want an Offenstive Team skater who isn’t carrying the puck to be able to get open for a pass or drive to the front of the net. We want to reward players who use the skill of skating.

Obstruction is any tactic by a player who tries to restrain or does restrain an opponent who is not in possession of the puck. Obstruction also occurs when a player physically prevents an opponent from moving freely in the direction he wishes to go.

A defending player can’t take one hand off his stick and use it to hold, pull, tug or grab the body or stick of an opponent. A defending player will be penalized if he uses his stick to impede an opponent unless he is skating in front of or beside the opponent and moving in the same direction.

Defending players need to know they cannot use their hands or their stick to impede an opposing player’s progress unless those defending players have legal body position. When you lose body position because you stopped skating, you’re in trouble. If you, as a Defending Team player, use your stick or your free hand to impede the progress of an Offensive Team player who does not have the puck, you will be penalized.

Similarly, a player chasing an opponent who is pursuing a loose puck cannot use his stick on that opponent and “slingshot” himself ahead of the skater he was pursuing.

Q: Are there other new rules for 2002-2003?

A: One new item is, if a team makes a goaltending change, it cannot delay the game unreasonably in doing so. Teams were trying to gain an unofficial time-out by changing the goalie and delaying while the goalie looked for his helmet or got a new stick or used some similar tactic. Now, if a team is going to make a change, the goalie must be ready to go into the net promptly. No extra time will be permitted, unless the new goalie is replacing a goaltender who has been injured.

Also, there will be a stricter standard regarding abuse of officials. Our Officials have a difficult job and they take a lot of heat. Almost every time an Official makes a call, one team likes it and the other team doesn’t. So if a player verbally abuses an Official in any way – even through such actions as slamming the door to the penalty box – the player will receive a minor penalty. If the player persists, he will receive an additional 10-minute misconduct penalty, and if he continues to abuse the Official, the player will be ejected.

Similarly, if a coach abuses an official, either verbally or through animated gestures, he will be assessed a bench minor penalty. If he persists, the coach will be ejected.

The bottom line: Abuse of an Official will result in a penalty to the Team, not just the player or Coach. This could put a Team down one player for four minutes or two players for two minutes each.