NHL Introduces New Rule Changes

NHL Introduces New Rule Changes

Skylar Sicilia

When all of the NHL’s general managers met in Boca Raton, FL to discuss the next
season’s rule changes this March, the extension of video reviews and the coach’s challenges
weren’t on anyone’s mind, but after a post-season fallout filled to the brim with controversy,
Commissioner Gary Bettman had no choice but to adhere to all of hockey’s request.
This year’s biggest rule changes were products born from the most recent post-season
and the fact that they’ve been introduced is no surprise. What is a surprise, however, is the
approach taken in solving issues with video review and coach’s challenges as many were
stumped on how the league would manage these issues in a manner that doesn’t rustle any
more feathers than they already have.
The approach is unique and seems to be ideal, but whether or not they are effective
won’t be decided until they are put to use during the 2019-20 season and since we are still a
month out from the first preseason puck drop, let’s break down the new changes and measure

their potential effectiveness for resolving controversies of the past and bettering the game as a
whole.

Extension of Video Review
Perhaps the incident that most stirred the pot this past season was that which took
place during game 7 of the Western Conference first round series between the San Jose Sharks
and the Vegas Golden Knights, when a bogus 5-minute major resulted in a tainted Sharks win.
The penalty was called with just under 11 minutes remaining in the game while the
Golden Knights seemed to have run away with a 3-0 victory, but with the inspiration of Sharks
veteran Joe Thornton the team found the spark they needed to grind out a win in overtime and
advance to the next round. This may have been one of the greatest comeback stories in all of
hockey, except that based on video review it’s abundantly clear that the 5-minute major
penalty put against Cody Eakin should only have been a 2-minute minor at most, meaning that
the Sharks most likely wouldn’t have been able to rally and overcome a 3-goal deficit in 10
minutes (though San Jose fans would beg to differ).
Because of the outrage that this game sparked in the hockey community it was a safe
assumption that the NHL would enhance their video replay rules to include major penalties, so
this change is no surprise.

Expansion of the Coach’s Challenge
Yet another rule change spawning from post-season controversy is the expansion of the
coach’s challenge to include all plays that go overlooked by the on-ice officials that should have
resulted in the stoppage in play but instead resulted in the scoring of a goal. This rule change is another one inspired by controversy surrounding San Jose in an
overtime win against the eventual Stanley Cup Champions, the St. Louis Blues where after 5
minutes of overtime Timo Meier made an illegal hand pass to Erik Karlsson who then scored to
win the game.
With this goal and a couple of other controversial goals from the 2018-19 playoffs, the
NHL has extended the function of the coach’s challenge to include not only goaltender
interference and offsides, but also any illegal play missed by the referee that occurred in the
offensive zone prior to the scoring of a goal. If the challenge is unsuccessful the team will
receive a minor penalty. The specificity of “the offensive zone” in the writing of this rule plays a
key factor in avoiding all of the potentially controversial implications that would come if the
rule was not written in this manner.

Other Minor Rule Changes
Other rule changes in effect as of 2019-20 include some smaller, but still important rules
that may still have an effect on the game in some fashion or another include:
Helmets
Derived from the IIHF and other international leagues, the NHL now requires that if a
player loses his helmet at any time in the game he is required to either put it back on and
continue playing or leave it on the ice and proceed to the bench. If a player fails to comply he
will receive a verbal warning or a minor penalty.

Powerplays and Icing
With the mindset of increasing goal scoring, the NHL now gives teams the choice
between offensive zone faceoff dots at the beginning of a powerplay or following an icing.

Awarded Goal
If a goaltender intentionally removes the net from the pegs in the ice an automatic goal
will be awarded to the opposition.

Perhaps the first two rules are the most important, but it is clear that all of these rules
have been put into place for the betterment of the game whether it be for the fans or players,
the NHL is improving year by year and hopefully this season we will all be able to see this for
ourselves.