Today, the NHL announced some rule changes that will come into use for the 2019-20 season. The changes were announced via a press release from NHL Public Relations.
According to the press release, the “rule changes were unanimously approved by the League’s Board of Governors, NHL General Managers and the Competition Committee over the past week” in Vancouver. The release further states that “NHL Hockey Operations will work on the precise Rule Book language over the coming weeks.”
The changes include “Expansion of Coach’s Challenge” which brings a third category to which a coach can call for a video review. Previously only off-side and goalie interference were the coach’s challenge categories. Now, coaches can challenge for “goal calls on the ice that follow plays in the Offensive Zone that should have resulted in a play stoppage, but did not.”
This could include: “pucks that hit the spectator netting, pucks that are high-sticked to a teammate in the offensive zone, pucks that have gone out of play but are subsequently touched in the offensive zone and hand passes that precede without a play stoppage and ultimately conclude in the scoring of a goal.” The release also states that plays “that entail “discretionary stoppages (e.g. penalty calls) will not be subject to a Coach’s Challenge.”
These calls can only be disputed by coaches “if the puck does not come out of the attacking zone between the time of the “missed” infraction and the time the goal is scored.”
An interesting wrinkle in the coach’s challenge is that teams are not restricted to using coach’s challenges if they have their timeout. According to NHL Public Relations, teams “will be permitted to exercise a Coach’s Challenge at any time, but with escalating “consequences” for unsuccessful Challenges.”
In the past, teams would use their coach’s challenge and, if they were unsuccessful, they would simply lose their timeout and that was it. Now, being wrong the first time will result in a minor penalty for delay of game, a double minor for delay of game accompanies each additional time being unsuccessful.
The release continued that the “Situation Room in Toronto will continue to be responsible for initiating video review in the final minute of regulation time and overtime as well as continue to have final authority over all Coach’s Challenge video review decisions from both the On-Ice Officials and a former Official staffed in the Situation Room.”
The second rule change that came out today involves referee review of major and match penalties as well as double minor high-sticking penalties. Basically all major penalties, not involving fighting, and match penalties will be “required” to be reviewed on the ice by the on-ice referees.
This will serve the purpose of either “confirming” the penalty or “reducing” the penalty (to a minor penalty) or the referees can “rescind a called penalty altogether.” The refs will be given “all available video to review their own calls but will not otherwise consult with the NHL Situation Room with respect to their review.”
As for the high-sticking double minors, the on-ice officials will be able to review (on-ice, and again, the Situation Room is not involved) whether the original call on the ice was right and “whether the stick causing the apparent injury was actually the stick of the Player being penalized.” This consultation for the referees is deemed discretionary and not mandatory.
Other approved rule changes include one that involves when a player loses a helmet on ice. Now, when a player loses his helmet, he must either leave the ice surface or retrieve the helmet and put it back on his head “with or without his chin strap fastened.”
If a player is playing the puck when he loses his helmet he will be given leeway to finish the play before either leaving the ice or putting the helmet back on.
If the helmetless player does not leave the playing surface or put his helmet back on, he will be assessed a minor penalty. If a player “intentionally removes an opponent’s helmet during play” he “shall be assessed a minor-penalty for roughing.”
A change to line changes was also made, in that the defensive team can no longer make a change “when a goalie freezes the puck on any shot from outside the center red line.” Also, if a defensive player unintentionally dislodges the net, his team will not be permitted to make a change. “In both of these instances, the offensive team will have the choice of which end zone dot the face-off will take place.”
Also, after an icing or to start a power play, “the offensive team will have the choice of which end zone dot the face-off will take place.”
Goals will now also be awarded to the offensive team if the goalie deliberately dislodges the net during a breakaway.
And finally, when “the attacking team is responsible for the puck going out of play in the attacking zone, in all instances, the face-off will be conducted at one of the two face-off dots in the attacking zone.”
You can see how some of the playoff calls/non-calls led to some changes here. I do like the new coach’s challenge rule eliminating it based on if you have your timeouts or not. These relatively minor changes should make for some interesting situations for the upcoming year.