Competition Committee Proposes Headshot Penalty

If – more like when – the NHL’s competition committee receives approval, league referees will be blessed with the power to assign major penalties for hits to the head next season.

The 10-person committee met in the NHL’s Toronto office on Friday and came to an agreement about the issue, solidifying months of rhetoric with what appears to be a comprehensive case for a tangible rule. The rule proposal was passed along to the league’s board of governors. The board meets next week in Los Angeles and is expected to grant final approval to the proposal.

There was no disclosure on the official wording of the new penalty, but that’ll probably emerge as the rule is made official by the board next week. Brendan Shanahan did say that the rule ascribes a major penalty and a game misconduct to head hits, while supplementary discipline is also a possibility in certain cases.

30 GMs proposed a headshot rule in March, but the NHLPA didn’t express confidence in the rule because it wasn’t discussed with the union prior to its initial inception. The competition committee, a group that hasn’t always had the approval of the NHLPA or the management, was needed to establish a firm rule that both parties could agree to.

The problem with this sort of red tape is that it made the NHLPA and the league look as though they weren’t taking the headshot issue seriously enough. Politics and backroom gripes were getting in the way of league safety, it seemed, and the will of the players and managers was being ignored in favour of old ways of doing business.

Nevertheless, it looks like a firm rule is finally headed into the NHL’s books. From the sounds of things, both sides are pleased with how the rule is shaping up.

Posted by Jordan Richardson.

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