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league’s rule about suspending that are called for an instigator penalty with less than five minutes to play has been rescinded more than it’s been punished.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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    NHL on NBCSN: Wild and Kings square off after making big trades on Sunday

    TORONTO, ON - DECEMBER 15:  Martin Hanzal #11 of the Arizona Coyotes gets set to take a faceoff against the Toronto Maple Leafs during an NHL game at the Air Canada Centre on December 15, 2016 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Coyotes defeated the Maple Leafs 3-2 in an overtime shoot-out. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
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    NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2016-17 campaign tonight when the Minnesota Wild host the Los Angeles Kings at 8:00 p.m. ET. If you want to watch the game online, you can do so here.

    The Wild and Kings didn’t play on Sunday, but that didn’t stop them from stealing the show, as both teams made major trades.

    The Kings acquired goalie Ben Bishop from the Tampa Bay Lightning for a modest package. The timing of the deal appeared to be a little odd because starter Jonathan Quick made his long-awaited return from injury on Saturday afternoon and he picked up a shutout in the process.

    But during a conference call on Sunday, Kings GM Dean Lombardi admitted that there are a “number of concerns” regarding Quick’s ability to handle a heavy workload.

    “You’re never sure how well a guy who’s been out this long — is he going to have his ‘A’ game, so to speak, or not? These type of injuries, which are fairly serious, the history of comebacks can go either way,” Lombardi said of Quick.

    Los Angeles could still use another guy to put the puck in the net, but they’ll have to hope that the acquisition of Bishop will give them a shot in the arm (they could sure use one).

    If the playoffs started today, the Kings wouldn’t be participating in them. They currently sit three points back of the St. Louis Blues for the final Wild Card spot in the Western Conference. Both teams have played the same number of games, but the Blues also have one more regulation/overtime win.

    On a positive note, the schedule sets up nicely for Los Angeles. They’ll play back-to-back road games in Minnesota tonight and in Calgary tomorrow, but they’ll follow that up with seven straight home games from Mar. 2-16.

    Minutes after the Kings made the first splash of the day, the Wild felt the need to increase their depth by adding forwards Martin Hanzal and Ryan White from Arizona.

    Minnesota paid a hefty price of three draft picks, including a first rounder in 2017 to get their hands on Hanzal and White, but the top team in the West now boasts a one-two-three punch of Eric Staal, Mikko Koivu and Hanzal down the middle.

    According to GM Chuck Fletcher, both players will suit up in tonight’s game.

    After dropping a pair of home games to Chicago this month, the Wild have a one-point lead over the Blackhawks for the Central Division lead, but Minnesota has three games in hand.

    It’ll be interesting to see how the Wild come out of the gate tonight, as this will be their first game back from their bye week.

    Report: Sens add forward Chris DiDomenico from Swiss League

    LONDON,ON - SEPTEMBER 14:  Chris DiDomenico #49 of the Chicago Black Hawks skates with the puck in a game against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the NHL Rookie Tournament on September 14,2010 at the John Labatt Centre in London,Ontario. The Hawks defeated the Penguins 9-5. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
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    The Ottawa Senators haven’t made a trade yet, but they have reportedly added some forward depth.

    According to reports out of Switzerland, Chris DiDomenico will be leaving the Swiss League’s SCL Tigers to join the Sens immediately. The Swiss team’s president says DiDomenico’s new contract is a one-way deal for this season and a two-way deal for next year.

    DiDomenico was drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the sixth round of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft.

    After stints in both the AHL and ECHL, he moved to Italian side Asiago HC in 2012. He spent  two seasons with them before joining the Tigers.

    The 28-year-old has 10 goals and 28 assists in 48 games in Switzerland’s top division this season.

    The move was an inconvenience for the Tigers, but they didn’t want to hold him back from making the leap to the NHL.

    “From a sports point of view, the timing of this decision is highly unfavorable. For the SCL Tigers, the most important stage of the season is the (playoffs),” said the release. “Chris DiDomenico has nevertheless insisted on contract resolution to pursue his dream of the NHL.

    “The board of directors of SCL Tigers therefore felt compelled to release Chris DiDomenico.”

    Those who follow the World Junior Hockey Championships will remember DiDomenico from Team Canada’s 2008 roster, which won gold in the Czech Republic. He had two goals and five assists during the tournament.

    It’s no secret that the Senators have been looking for forward depth for a while, but with the potential cost of a trade being so high, it looks like they’ve gone the Euro route in stead.

    The acquisition of DiDomenico doesn’t mean Ottawa GM Pierre Dorion won’t acquire an NHL forward between now and Wednesday’s deadline, but maybe they aren’t as desperate as before.

    PHT Morning Skate: Alligator on golf course scares the life out of Erik Karlsson

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    –Sportsnet’s Gare Joyce put together a fantastic piece outlining trade deadline day from the perspective of a GM who is a buyer, a GM who is a seller, a professional and amateur scout, an agent and a lawyer. When a deal goes down, we just get to see the finished product, but clearly, there are a lot of moving parts behind the scenes. This is a great read. (Sportsnet)

    –The Senators took on the Panthers in Florida on Sunday night. Ottawa arrived in the Sun Shine State on Saturday, which gave Erik Karlsson a chance to hit the links with Swedish golfer Jesper Parnevik. While on the course, the group had an encounter with an alligator, and let’s just say it made Karlsson jump out of his socks. (Yahoo)

    –Puck Junk takes a look at a new deck of cards that has animated photos of a few hockey hall of famers including Wayne Gretzky, Bobby Orr, Gordie Howe and many others. The photos were created by 10 different European artists and each picture is pretty interesting (some players even look evil). (Puck Junk)

    –The Boston Bruins and Dallas Stars are headed in opposite directions and that was pretty obvious on Sunday, when the Bruins took down the Stars, 6-3. You can watch the highlights from that game by clicking the video at the top of the page.

    –Former NHLer Rich Peverly was forced to retire from hockey after he went into cardiac arrest during a game, but he’s using his experience to educate others. He and his wife, Nathalie, have created Pevs Protects, which is a charity that aims to raise money to purchase automated external defibrillators and to teach people how to use them properly. “It’s been a healing process for our family. Especially for our kids, to look at something that was challenging for us to go through, but also to see what you can do to take a hard situation and make it a good one.” (NHL.com)

    –Many would agree that the Arizona Coyotes did well in the Martin Hanzal trade, but Arizona Sports 98.7’s Craig Morgan argues that they should have received a young player that could step in and fill the void left by Hanzal’s departure.  “When a proven commodity like Hanzal walks out the door, you hope for a little more. You hope that long-promised future will finally get a little closer to the present.” (Arizona Sports 98.7)

    –With Hanzal and Ben Bishop now off the market, The Score breaks down the top five remaining rental players available ahead of Wednesday’s deadline. As you’ve probably come to expect, Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk finds himself at the top of the list. (The Score)

    Shane Doan wasn’t pleased with the Martin Hanzal trade

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    Shane Doan has in the past been critical about some of the trades the Arizona Coyotes have made.

    He did so again on Sunday, seemingly in disbelief that the Coyotes traded Martin Hanzal to the Minnesota Wild.

    In March of 2015, the now 40-year-old forward, who has played his entire career with this franchise despite all its financial and arena turmoil, voiced his displeasure when Arizona dealt defenseman Keith Yandle.

    “It was not my idea, not my ideal situation,” he said at the time. “There’s no one that’s 38 years old that thinks it’s a good idea, ‘Let’s rebuild.’”

    The Coyotes entered Sunday with 49 points and well out of a wild card spot. They are selling, in a rebuilding phase and Hanzal’s name had been tied to trade speculation for months.

    The Coyotes were in action versus the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday. Standing in the dressing room and still trying to capture his breath, Doan addressed the Hanzal deal with Todd Walsh of Fox Sports Arizona.

    “It’s really hard. Obviously he’s a huge part of our team and someone that you get to play with for 10 years, you appreciate and understand how valuable and how you can’t really replace him,” said Doan, before the frustration really began to appear.

    “The fact we just continue to seem to go — I don’t know, it’s hard to understand exactly. I mean, you understand people’s hands are tied and you just don’t get it.”

    Meanwhile, Doan is on a one-year contract and his future with the club has also been talked about recently.

    However, Coyotes GM John Chayka reiterated to reporters that Doan has not asked for a trade.