Last week, the NHL unveiled a new rule in the interest of player safety that will access a two-minute minor penalty to any player that removes his helmet before a fight.
This rule on the surface does not seem to be outlandish. In order to cut down on the number of concussions, the league is trying to encourage players to keep their helmets on at all cost.
But there are two rules that still remain that seem to indicate the NHL is trying to ban fighting. First rule would be the Rule 46.6.
If a player penalized as an instigator of an altercation is wearing a face shield (including a goalkeeper), he shall be assessed an additional unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
Should the player (including a goalkeeper) who instigates the fight be wearing a face shield, but removes it before instigating the altercation, the additional unsportsmanlike conduct penalty shall not apply.
This makes sense. No one wants to fight a player wearing a visor. Enforcers and fighters wouldn’t be wearing visors anyway, so who cares, right?
This year, however, begins the new visor rule. A mandatory visor rule is being grandfathered in, requiring all new players to put on the face protection. In time, a fighting major will not just result in a five-minute major for all players. There will be an additional two-minute minor, making fighting a seven-minute penalty in the box.
So with these two new rules in place, will this limit the fighting in the NHL? Will the threat of a minor penalty cut down the number of fights? Probably not.
Putting this penalty in place is only a public relations move that doesn’t do anything for the game. It says to fans “We care about the safety of the players, but we also know you guys like fighting so we are keeping it in.” But we all know that seems a bit hypocritical.
Either take fighting out of the game, increase the penalty minutes for fighting or take the minor penalty out. Putting a helmet rule in the game is an attempt to pull the wool over fans eyes, and it doesn’t do anything except add two-minutes to the PIM.
CBS Eye on Hockey pointed out that the OHL has this rule already in place (two minutes for taking the helmet off and required visors), yet fights are abundant in that league. The rules didn’t curb fighting in the slightest.
This rule is only going to penalize players a bit more for fighting; nothing more and nothing less, but it is all being done in the name of safety to make the NHL look better. Don’t expect the hockey fights to stop.
Expect more of this….