Many fans and, evidently, many players were left completely confused by some of the refereeing decisions that were made in Phantoms season opener on Sunday night so here is a breakdown of the key rule changes that have been introduced for this season ………
RULE 96 – SCORING WITH DELIBERATE KICKING MOTION
Quite simply, you can not score a goal with your skate if the official deems the deflection to be deliberate. Previously, the question was all about “kicking motion or not” which meant that you could get away with deflecting a goal in off your skate so long as you showed no “kicking motion” in doing so. Now the question is simply “was that a deliberate deflection or not” ….. and deliberate means no goal !
RULE 119 – BOARDING
We saw this one called on a Bison player on Sunday ….. quite simply, Boarding is no longer distinguished from “checking from behind” in terms of punishment and will, therefore, command a minimum 2+10 penalty. There will no longer be such a thing as a Boarding minor call. This is basically a player safety move and means that any hit, whether from behind or in front, that results in a player bouncing into the boards will get a minimum 2+10 call.
RULE 153 – LATE HIT
This is the big one that you are going to see a lot this season and its also the one that is undoubtedly going to cause the most grief between players and officials. The new rule majors on two factors …… vulnerability and awareness. If the official deems that a hit is made on a player who was unaware of that hit coming in and/or was in a vulnerable position, aware or not, then there is going to be a penalty called.
Basically, if a player is on the puck/in control of the puck then he can be hit as per normal, so long as that hit is fair and does not involve a hit to the head, the back or the lower body …… no changes there.
A “late hit” offence is committed if a player is hit when NOT in possession of the puck and the official deems that the hit was NOT unavoidable so that will particularly target any hits made by players who come in from some distance to deliver that hit. If you are in close proximity then it is more likely – but not guaranteed – that the official will deem the hit unavoidable even if the puck has been offloaded just before the hit.
In terms of what penalty is called, “awareness” of the incoming hit is key. If the official deems that the receiving player was aware of the incoming late hit then the offender will be called a two minute minor but if the official deems the receiving player did not see the hit coming and was, therefore, “unaware” then the call will be a Game Misconduct penalty. On top of that, if the late hit is both on an “unaware” player and considered “reckless” then the penalty will be a suspension incurring Match Penalty.
RULE 221 – NETMINDER CONTROL OF THE PUCK
This rule change brings in a stronger requirement for the netminder to play the puck with their stick when they are not being pressured by an opponent …… rather than simply playing safe and freezing the puck to intentionally cause a stoppage in play.
Officials will now call a minor penalty on the netminder if they are deemed to have had the opportunity to play the puck prior to being pressured by an attacking player but, instead, chose intentionally to cause a stoppage in play by freezing it. The key factor here is in how an official determines what constitutes “pressure” and IIHF clarification is anticipated on this in the near future.
REPLACEMENT OF “INJURY” WITH “RECKLESS ENDANGERMENT”
A long overdue improvement to this one. No longer will the calling of a major penalty automatically result from any infringement that causes injury ….. now it is down to the official to determine whether the offending player “recklessly endangered” the player with his actions. It is now all about penalising the action rather than the consequence of the action.
As an example, this will eradicate the obligation on the official to call a Game Penalty on any offender who draws blood by his actions and will, instead, all depend on whether the offender’s actions were deemed “reckless” so anything deemed accidental should now escape punishment.
RULE 53 – FACE OFF VIOLATIONS
Previously if a player was assessed a personal penalty, the ensuing face-off was at the nearest face-off spot to where game action was stopped. This rule change moves the ensuing face-off to the defending zone of the team whose player was penalised.
RULE 88 – PLAYER CHANGE DURING GAME
Players who use the length of the bench to gain a territorial or numerical advantage during the game (as opposed to using the “gate”) will be penalized with a “too many men” call. This one might prove very contentious if we ever see it !!!
RULE 136 – DELAY OF GAME/SUBSTITUTION AFTER AN ICING CALL
This one is all about a face-off after an icing call. It is deemed that some defending teams will deliberately breach face-off rules in order to get their player thrown out of the face-off circle and give his linemates longer time to recover/prepare. The new rule states that the player will not be thrown out but his bench will receive a warning and will then be awarded a bench minor penalty if the player gets thrown out a second time at the face-off.
RULE 167 – TRIPPING
There are two changes to the Tripping rule. The first one is a definition change which adds that a tripping can be the result of an arm movement, in addition to a stick, skate or leg action.
The second, more significant, change specifies that if a player lunges and touches the puck first but takes the player down, then a tripping penalty will now be called ……. in other words the act of touching the puck first no longer negates the penalty. The only thing the act of touching the puck first does, is negate a penalty shot call (ie: if the player lunges and touches the puck first but takes the player down then a penalty shot cannot be called because they touched the puck first, but a tripping penalty needs to be assessed).
RULE 176 – PENALTY SHOT PROCEDURE
The change here is that any skater (excluding any that were about to be penalised themselves) can be named by the coach to take the penalty shot where, previously, it had to be the player who was fouled to take the shot (or another designated player who was on the ice at the time of the infraction if the fouled player was deemed to be injured). The new rule now allows ANY player to take the penalty shot.
RULE 94 – SCORING A LATE GOAL
In case this ever happens ……. when a goal is scored in the last second of a period and 19.59 shows on the period clock, it is not necessary to conduct a restart face-off at centre ice !
RULE 145 – HOLDING THE STICK
A “holding the stick” penalty can now be called if the stick is held by other means and not just the hands of the player e.g. legs !