NHL Referee
(AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

With the NHL regular season less than a month away, now is a good time to go over some of the new rules changes implemented. 

Frank Curto

The NHL has had its share of controversial plays. Beginning with the 2019-20 campaign, the league will implement some new changes that will help correct these obvious errors without stopping the flow of the hockey game.

Video review will be expanded

There is now a variety of different video replay challenges a coach can request if the act results in a goal scored.

  • Coaches can now challenge plays in the offensive zone that involve the puck hitting the protective netting above the glass.
  • A puck that appears to be high-sticked to another teammate.
  • A puck that is hand passed to another teammate in the offensive zone.

This last situation was a focal point in last season’s St. Louis Blues vs. San Jose Shark playoff game. A clear handpass was missed, resulting in a Sharks overtime win.


The challenge does come with consequences. The team’s first challenge that is not determined to be an infraction will result in a two-minute delay of game penalty on the team that issued the challenge. A second incorrect challenge will result in a double-minor penalty.

The double-minor will continue to be called if an incorrect challenge is issued throughout the rest of the game.

Faceoffs

The offensive team will get to choose which offensive faceoff circle they want to take the draw. This is for all icing calls and faceoffs after a penalty has been called.

Referee Reviews

Referees must review all major and match penalties in order to prevent erroneous calls. Should the referees, after review, determine the penalty called didn’t deserve a major or match, it can be demoted to a minor penalty; but a penalty of some sort must be issued after the review.

A review for a high stick major penalty will also fall under this category to prevent a call if a teammate’s stick or the player’s own stick resulted in the high-sticking play.

An example of the type of play that would be reviewed now is the major penalty called on New York Rangers forward Brendan Lemieux last season in a 4-1 loss to the Vancouver Canucks.

Lemieux was given a major penalty, yet had the referees been allowed to review the call, they would have seen that Lemieux made an attempt to avoid contact as the Canuck player was falling to the ice.

Line Changes

A team can no longer make a line change if their goalie freezes a puck on a shot from outside of the center red line or if a defensive player dislodges its own net. The offensive team will get to choose which dot to take the faceoff.

Out of Play

Regardless of a puck going out of play from a missed shot or a shot that deflects off the post, the resulting faceoff will stay in the offensive zone.

Helmets

The days of continuing to play after a player’s helmet is knocked off are over. A player must now make a “concerted effort” to retrieve his helmet or head off to the bench. Should a player intentionally knock another player’s helmet off, a two-minute minor penalty will be called.

It appears that some of these new rules were implemented to keep a better pace of a game, increase scoring and to verify that a major-match penalty is called correctly, as the further consequences could lead to suspensions.

Get the calls right and at the same time make sure the integrity of the game is not lost. It’s a fine line, but the NHL hasn’t shied away from fixing some glaring errors from past seasons.



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