Along with approving the Toronto Maple Leafs sale and other topics, the NHL’s Board of Governors announced two rule changes that essentially force players to be a bit more careful with their hands. (Apologies to obstruction-fearing fans who want changes, though. This isn’t about that.)
“Concealing the puck”
Rule 67.2 has been altered to keep players from closing their hands on the puck and skating with it when it’s in the air. A player can still catch a puck in the opposing zone, but he’ll get a minor penalty if he moves with it in his gloved hand. Here’s how the league worded it:
“A player shall be permitted to catch the puck out of the air but must immediately place it or knock it down to the ice. If he catches it and skates with it, either to avoid a check or to gain a territorial advantage over his opponent, a minor penalty shall be assessed for “closing his hand on the puck.”
Batting the puck out of the faceoff circle
Along similar lines, a player can no longer win a faceoff by desperately (or sneakily?) bat the puck out of a faceoff with his hands. Here’s the official description:
“Both players facing-off are prohibited from batting the puck with their hand in an attempt to win the face-off. Any attempt by either center to win the face-off by batting the puck with their hand shall result in a minor penalty. This penalty shall be announced as a “Minor Penalty for Delay of Game – Face-off Violation.” Once the face-off is deemed complete (and winner of the face-off is clear), hand passes shall be enforced as per Rule 79.”
The two alterations are perfectly logical and share a theme: forcing players to advance the puck with their sticks rather than their gloved hands. These aren’t game-changes, but I like the tweaks. What do you think?