The preseason is a time where players and referees fine tune their game prior to the start of the season. Now, with the league enforcing the Faceoff Violation Rule, players are struggling.
Preseason began last weekend and the NHL is cracking down on Faceoff Violations, which when assessed hits the offending team with a minor penalty for delay of game. Centers and coaches throughout the league are extremely confused on what is and what is not a violation.
The league has said it is enforcing this rule as a safety measure for its officials. In years past, a center could line up for a faceoff with his legs as far apart as he wanted. This sometimes caused the player’s leg to be behind the linesman’s leg as he dropped the puck. The linesman would trip over the center’s leg as he was attempting to skate backward towards the boards, causing possible injury.
Now, centers must keep their skates within the lines at the face off dot. You no longer can go low to the ice since your skates cannot exceed these line markings. This drastically changes how centers have taken draws previously. If a center violates this draw, he is tossed from the faceoff as he was in the past. When his replacement for the faceoff steps in and he gets tossed out, a minor penalty is called. This is a much tougher consequence as opposed to just getting tossed out of the draw.
Centers must now pay attention to where their feet are at all times. Another factor to consider is the circle area where the wingers line up. If a wingers skate is anywhere in the circle, the center will be tossed out of that faceoff as this constitutes a violation. There are a few ways a violation can be called now and everyone involved will have to figure it out before opening night.
Will the NHL and its officials continue to be this strict once the season begins? How will the fans react if their team losses a game on a power-play goal resulting from a faceoff violation?
These questions can only be answered once the games start to count. Thankfully, that’s only a few weeks away.