Wednesday, March 24, 2010

NHL Considers Implementing New Rule Without PA Approval

On March 23rd the NHL's Board of Governors voted on a new rule prohibiting "a lateral, back-pressure or blind-side hit to an opponent where the head is targeted and/or the principal point of contact." They voted and it was unanimously approved.

The rule was proposed a month ago by the NHL's 30 general managers and it was originally supposed to be implemented at the start of next season. However, due to a rash of ugly incidents, including Marc Savard and Brent Seabrook being injured, the league is looking to have the new rule implemented for this year's playoffs.

However, on Tuesday the NHLPA released a statement in regard to the unanimous vote.

"Under the CBA, the League's proposal cannot take effect until it first receives the support of the joint NHLPA/NHL Competition Committee, and then is endorsed by the NHL Board of Governors. To date, the Competition Committee has neither agreed on a proposal, nor forwarded a proposal to the Board of Governors for its vote."

NHL deputy commissioner, Bill Daly, wasted no time in responding to the NHLPA.

"Our Board can enact rule changes at any time with or without Competition Committee approval. To the extent the Competition Committee has approved the rule change in advance, it is entirely insulated from PA challenge."

Daly goes on to say " We have been attempting to work through the PA and the Competition Committee for 10 days now on what the League considers to be a very important issue. To the extent we do not receive NHLPA or Competition Committee sign-off or approval, we will consider all available options and make a decision in the best interests of the League and the players."

This is when Daly's comments get good. "In that event, and regardless of what we decide to do with this rule, the process, unfortunately, will lead many to the conclusion that the Competition Committee overlay and structure has failed to realize the vision that created it, and will necessarily have to be revisited in collective bargaining."

Wow, sounds like fighting words. Whether it is the actual rule that the PA has issue with, or just the fact that they want to be a larger part of the decision making process in this instance, still remains to be seen. I believe the PA also does not like the fact that this rule would give the NHL more power in supplementary discipline, suspensions and such, on a play that is still open to differing interpretations.

The League is expecting to hear from the NHLPA today at some point and obviously the hope is that the two sides can work together for a change for the betterment of the game. This is a rule that should have been created long ago, and after all, we are only in this situation because of the players lack of respect for each other.


  1. There's a lot of politics diverting the solution to all of this, but even Wendel Clark admitted last week what everyone has been saying for a long time; the titanium shoulder pads used nowadays ironically has an adverse affect on the safety of the game.

    It's kind of like if our cars didn't have seat belts, air bags or brakes, we obviously wouldn't drive as fast or as reckless. The change has to come totally from the NHLPA on this one.

  2. Don Cherry has long been advocating that the elbow pads are dangerous.

    Same arguments with helmets perhaps? less respect for the head? And for visors, less caution with high sticks?

    Regardless of all that... some players frequently get in trouble, and some players never do. Respect for the game and your opposition is still paramount.

    The Matt Cookes of the world will always be Matt Cookes.