The NHL Board of Governors approved two minor rules changes at its annual meeting in Las Vegas, making it pretty clear that it frowns upon creative use of the gloves.
The first rules change tweaks Rule 67 — Handling Puck. The rule currently reads:
67.2 Minor Penalty — Player - A player shall be permitted to catch the puck out of the air but must immediately place it or knock it down to the ice. If he catches it and skates with it, either to avoid a check or to gain a territorial advantage over his opponent, a minor penalty shall be assessed for "closing his hand on the puck".
A minor penalty shall be imposed on a player who, while play is in progress, picks up the puck off the ice with his hand.
What the NHL added to it on Tuesday:
Any time a player places his hand over the puck while it is on the ice in order to conceal it from or prevent an opponent from playing the puck, a minor penalty shall be assessed for "closing his hand on the puck." When this is done in his own team's goal crease area, a penalty shot shall be assessed (67.4) or a goal awarded (67.5).
The league has cracked down on players attempting to earn a whistle by using their body to conceal the puck; Anton Volchenkov of the New Jersey Devils, for example, was whistled for delay of game against the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference semifinals for covering the puck with his hand even as Brian Boyle shoved the back of his head down towards the ice.
The Volchenkov play was covered by Rule 63.2, which prohibits "any player, including the goalkeeper, who holds, freezes or plays the puck with his stick, skates or body in such a manner as to deliberately cause a stoppage of play."
This new rule specifically targets the covering of the puck with one's glove, and broadens the officials' scope for penalties — it's not just when a player seeks to delay the game, but when a player covers the puck to protect it from an opponent.
It seems like a natural extension of the existing rules, so we'll give it a pass.
As for the other rules change, it targets sneaky faceoff plays.
The following was added to Rule 76.4, which covers faceoff procedures:
Both players facing-off are prohibited from batting the puck with their hand in an attempt to win the face-off. Any attempt by either center to win the face-off by batting the puck with their hand shall result in a minor penalty. This penalty shall be announced as a "Minor Penalty for Delay of Game - Face-off Violation." Once the face-off is deemed complete (and winner of the face-off is clear), hand passes shall be enforced as per Rule 79.
There wasn't exactly an outpouring of angst recently regarding gloved pucks on faceoffs, but clearly the Board of Governors felt this was a serious enough infraction that it requires a minor penalty. That seems a bit harsh for what's essentially a faceoff violation, but we suppose the NHL feels that's the best way to convey its feelings on, ahem, underhanded faceoff techniques.
And with that, the GMs hit the golf courses, casinos and swimming pools; and we can be thankful the BoG meeting passed without any further rules restricting physical play and/or some draconian overreaction to the SCOURGE OF SHOT-BLOCKING.
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