The NHL competition committee has given its approval to a new rule banning blind-side hits to the head, and the rule will go into effect for tonight’s games.
The rule states: “A lateral, back pressure or blind side hit to an opponent where the head is targeted and/or the principal point of contact is not permitted.” Any violation of the rule will be reviewed for possible fines or suspensions. Beginning next season, violations will also result in a minor or major penalty being called on the ice.
The league posted a video explaining the difference between legal and illegal hits.
“We believe this is the right thing to do for the game and for the safety of our players,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement.
NHL general managers approved the rule earlier this month before it was approved by the NHLPA. The Players Association’s Executive Board released the following statement earlier today:
We fully support our Competition Committee Members’ endorsement of the League’s proposal to implement supplemental discipline this season for blindside hits to the head. Our agreement applies to the remainder of the 2009-10 NHL Regular Season, as well as the 2010 Playoffs. This temporary implementation will ensure that the joint NHLPA/NHL Competition Committee will have time to develop and consider a proper and full-time rule, one that includes an on-ice penalty component, this summer. We are encouraged by the League’s recent willingness to explore on-ice rule changes as a means of reducing Player injuries and have no doubt that by working together, a safer working environment can be established for all NHLPA Members.