NHL Board of Governors approves head shot penalty

The NHL announced tonight that the league rule book will be one penalty heavier next season adding a major penalty for blindside hits to the head. Get your pens out to write this one into your copy of the league rules that I know you’ve got sitting on your desk. Wait, I’m the only one with that? Well, fine, but here it is anyhow.

Rule 48, “Illegal Check to the Head,” also empowers a referee, at his discretion, to assess a match penalty if, in his judgment, the penalized player attempted to or deliberately injured his opponent with an illegal check to the head.

There shouldn’t be a lot of argument about this from anyone but I’m sure the first instance this comes into play will come under intense, slow motion scrutiny by everyone on the Internet and otherwise. That said, having to add a rule like this is a bit crazy in the first place in that none of the other infractions in the book covered having a guy come out of nowhere and blasting another player in the head being a penalty. One fun side tweak to all this is what to do with guys who keep doing this repeatedly.

Any player who incurs a total of two game misconducts under this rule, in either the regular season or playoffs, will be suspended automatically for his team’s next game. For each subsequent game misconduct penalty, the automatic suspension will be increased by one game.

If deemed appropriate, supplementary discipline also can be applied.

With this kind of rider attached to the rule, I certainly hope the league won’t be wishy-washy about suspending guys when it’s called for in the rule book. The league’s rule about suspending that are called for an instigator penalty with less than five minutes to play has been rescinded more than it’s been punished. Doing the same in this case would be a tremendous mistake.

It’s rough that it took Marc Savard getting blown up by Matt Cooke this year to finally snap the league and players out of their haze and into doing something proactive about protecting one another, but at the same time, it’s great that at least something is being done and almost immediately as well.

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    Krug out six months, Krejci out five months after undergoing surgery

    BOSTON, MA - NOVEMBER 19: David Krejci #46 of the Boston Bruins talks with Torey Krug #47 during the second period against the Minnesota Wild at TD Garden on November 19, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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    Some pretty significant health updates out of Boston on Tuesday:

    — Defenseman Torey Krug will miss the next six months following right shoulder surgery.

    — Center David Krejci will miss the next five months following left hip surgery.

    — Winger Matt Beleskey will miss the next six weeks following left hand surgery.

    Got all that?

    Let’s go straight to the ramifications:

    Krug

    Assuming he had a shot at making the U.S. World Cup team — and given he was the fifth-highest scoring American d-man this year, you had to figure he did — that opportunity is now wiped out.

    The six-month recovery window also means Krug will miss however many games the Bruins play in October (it was 10 this season.) That’ll prove difficult for head coach Claude Julien.

    Krug’s a staple of the Boston power play and averaged 21:36 TOI per night this season. Finding someone to fill that role won’t be easy.

    Krejci

    Named to the Czech Republic’s initial 16-man roster for the World Cup, Krejci’s participation is now (presumably) in question. Even if he’s healthy in five months, that would bring him right up to the start of September — and the World Cup runs from Sept. 17 to Oct. 1.

    Can’t imagine Boston would be too happy with Krejci, who just turned 30 last week, playing in this event fresh off major hip surgery.

    This is also the second significant injury Krejci’s suffered in the last two years, having partially torn his MCL in 2015.

    Beleskey

    Figures to be back to full health in time for training camp, which has to be one of the few positives to come from today. Beleskey enjoyed a good first year in Boston during the ’15-16 campaign, finishing with 15 goals and 37 points.

    It’s possible the hand injury affected him down the stretch, though. After scoring five goals and eight points in 14 games in February, Beleskey failed to produce much in March and April, and finished the year in a four-game pointless slump.

    Report: Wild interested in MacLean, Carlyle for head coaching gig

    OTTAWA, ON - APRIL 4: Head coach Paul MacLean of the Ottawa Senators yells at the on ice-officials following a disallowed goal against the Montreal Canadiens during an NHL game at Canadian Tire Centre on April 4, 2014 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.  (Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images)
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    With the coaching carousel now in full spin — another gig opened up today, as Bob Hartley was fired in Calgary — GMs are actively seeking permission to speak with potential candidates.

    Like in Minnesota, where Chuck Fletcher is working the phones.

    Per the Star-Tribune, Fletcher — who has reportedly reached out to Ducks GM Bob Murray about Bruce Boudreau — is now also looking at Boudreau’s assistant in Anaheim, Paul MacLean, along with ex-Ducks and Leafs head coach Randy Carlyle.

    More, from Mike Russo:

    It’s believed on that same phone call with Murray, Fletcher asked about the status of Ducks assistant coach Paul MacLean. I’ve been led to believe Fletcher has yet to receive permission to talk with MacLean. If that’s true, it likely means MacLean, the former Senators head coach, is a candidate to replace Boudreau in Anaheim. That would make sense since MacLean was Murray’s hire in the first place.

    In addition, as I reported in my Boudreau piece in Saturday’s paper here, sources told me that Fletcher did plan to contact Randy Carlyle. I don’t know if that contact has been made yet with the former Ducks and Maple Leafs coach.

    Per TSN’s Darren Dreger, Fletcher is currently in California. Logic suggests he’s getting two interviews done for the price of one, as both Boudreau and Carlyle live in southern California.

    As for MacLean, he’s certainly going to be a figure worth monitoring. One has to think he’s in line to replace Boudreau in Anaheim — something predicted from the moment he was hired — but that’s assuming Murray doesn’t clean house behind the bench.

    Treliving cites ‘style of play’ and poor special teams among reasons for firing Hartley

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    Brad Treliving started out with a lot of love for Bob Hartley.

    “Bob did some very good things here,” the Flames’ general manager told reporters today in Calgary. “He built a foundation in this organization. Apart from all else, he put his heart and soul into this team every day. He bled for this team. Bob’s a good coach.”

    Then came the brutal honesty:

    “I just felt that at this particular time, for us to move forward, Bob has taken this team as far as I feel he can take it.”

    Hence, today’s decision to fire Hartley — a decision that Treliving insisted had nothing to do with any other coach that may have recently become available. (Like, for example, Bruce Boudreau.) Nor was it just to “throw a body on the tarmac” after the Flames missed the playoffs.

    The decision to fire Hartley was made for one simple reason — the Flames haven’t been playing good enough hockey.

    “Our special teams for a good portion of the year were 30th in the league. There’s some style-of-play issues,” said Treliving.

    “Our goaltending was not good this year. That falls on the general manager. I need to fix that. [But] the way we play in front of the goaltender needs to be fixed as well.”

    The statistics support Treliving’s assessment. In 2015-16, the Flames had the highest goals-against average in the NHL, and the worst penalty killing.

    At five on five, Calgary was also one of the league’s worst puck-possession teams. And while that was the case last season as well, when the Flames made the playoffs and even won a round, remember that Treliving had previously chalked up a good portion of last season’s success to luck.

    “I don’t want to characterize this as I’m standing in one end of the corner and Bob’s at the other end, and one’s talking chess and the other’s talking checkers,” Treliving said Monday.

    “But in today’s game, you need to have the puck. You’ve gotta work like hell to get it. And when you get it, you gotta hold on to it, you gotta play with it.

    “I think how you defend in the league, too, is an area we look at. … You really break down the chances that we give up… you’ve gotta be able to defend in this league.”

    And so the search for Hartley’s replacement begins.

    “I’ll leave this podium and work will start on who the next coach will be,” said Treliving. “But up until this point, this is about making a decision, doing it in what I believe is the right manner, and then we’ll move on.”

    To listen to Treliving’s entire press conference, click here

    Related: What does ‘good defense’ mean to Barry Trotz?

    Panthers sign Swedish League standout Hultstrom

    STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN - FEBRUARY 18: Linus Hultstrom #33 of Djurgarden Hockey skates against Linkoping HC at Hovet Arena on February 18, 2016 in Stockholm, Sweden.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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    Florida made a noteworthy move on Tuesday, signing defensman Linus Hultstrom from SHL club Djurgardens.

    Hultstrom, 23, just wrapped a terrific year in which he led all SHL blueliners in goals (12) and points (31). In the playoffs, Hultstrom upped his production — 12 points in eight games — paving the way for the Panthers to make their move.

    Though undersized — he’s listed at 5-foot-11, 185 pounds — Hultstrom has been a scorer at virtually every level, and should be in line for a role on Florida’s blueline next season.

    Captain Willie Mitchell, who missed the second half of the season with concussion issues, is expected to retire.

    Another veteran defenseman, Brian Campbell, will be an unrestricted free agent on July 1, and it remains unclear if GM Dale Tallon will try to re-sign him.

    Jakub Kindl, acquired at the trade deadline from Detroit, failed to impress and made just one appearance in the postseason. Kindl does, however, have one year remaining on his contract.