Tuesday, September 10, 2013

NHL Hockey: League clarifies illegal check to head rule

Original NHL logo, used until 2005. A version ...
Original NHL logo, used until 2005. A version of the logo features it in the shape of a hockey puck. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
According to the Elliotte Friedman of CBC's Hockey Night in Canada, the NHL has changed their wording of Rule 48. It's nice to see the rule get clarified and cleaned up a bit.
Now Rule 48.1 declares an illegal check to the head as "a hit resulting in contact with an opponent's head where the head was the main point of contact and such contact to the head was avoidable."

You're going to ask the obvious follow-up. How do you determine if the hit is avoidable? There are three circumstances to be considered:

First, whether the player attempted to hit squarely through the opponent's body and the head was not "picked" as a result of poor timing, poor angle of approach or unnecessary extension of the body upward or outward.

Second, whether the opponent put himself in a vulnerable position by assuming a posture that made head contact on an otherwise full body check unavoidable.

Third, whether the opponent materially changed the position of his body or head immediately prior to or simultaneously with the hit in a way that significantly contributed to the head contact.

Obviously, we need game action to see how this change affects things. But in theory, it makes a lot of sense. By eliminating "targeted" and adding "avoidable," it puts added onus on the hitter to avoid recklessness. Ultimately, that's what you want.
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