Tag: hits from behind

Logan Couture, Ryane Clowe, Ben Eager

NHL BOG changes wording of Rules 41 and 48 to target questionable hits

1 Comment

The NHL Board of Governors voted on three important changes today. One involved officially approving the relocation of the Atlanta Thrashers franchise to Winnipeg. The two other major decisions revolved around changing the wording of rules in the hopes of giving referees and league disciplinarians (such as Brendan Shanahan) a better chance of policing questionable hits.

The BOG approved wording changes for Rule 41 (boarding) and Rule 48 (illegal hits to the head).

Before we provide you with the full rules, here is a basic summary of how each rule has been altered.

Rule 41 has been changed so that it penalizes players who fail to avoid or minimize contact with a defenseless opponent along the boards. NHL.com points out that it also gives referees some discretion to determine if the victim of a hit put himself into a vulnerable position just moments before the hit happened, making the conclusion unavoidable.

Rule 48 received essential deletions: a hit will be illegal if the head is the “principal point of contact” with the “blindside or lateral hit” phrases taken out of the description. This change will be welcomed by many who thought that the “blindside or lateral hit” language allowed disciplinarians too much leeway to let offending parties off without a penalty. Most of the gray area has been removed.

Anyway, here are the complete, changed rules via NHL.com.

New Wording of Rule 41 – Boarding

41.1 Boarding – A boarding penalty shall be imposed on any player who checks or pushes a defenseless opponent in such a manner that causes the opponent to hit or impact the boards violently or dangerously. The severity of the penalty, based upon the impact with the boards, shall be at the discretion of the Referee.

There is an enormous amount of judgment involved in the application of this rule by the referees. The onus is on the player applying the check to ensure his opponent is not in a defenseless position and if so, he must avoid or minimize contact. However, in determining whether such contact could have been avoided, the circumstances of the check, including whether the opponent put himself in vulnerable position immediately prior to or simultaneously with the check or whether the check was unavoidable can be considered. This balance must be considered by the referees when applying this rule.

Any unnecessary contact with a player playing the puck on an obvious “icing” or “off-side” play which results in that player hitting or impacting the boards is “boarding” and must be penalized as such. In other instances where there is no contact with the boards, it should be treated as “charging.”

New Wording of Rule 48 – Illegal Check to the Head

48.1 Illegal Check To The Head – A hit resulting in contact with an opponent’s head where the head is targeted and the principal point of contact is not permitted. However, in determining whether such a hit should have been permitted, the circumstances of the hit, including whether the opponent put himself in a vulnerable position immediately prior to or simultaneously with the hit or the head contact on an otherwise legal body check was unavoidable, can be considered.

48.2 Minor Penalty – For violation of this rule, a minor penalty shall be assessed.

48.3 Major Penalty – There is no provision for a major penalty for this rule.

48.4 Game Misconduct – There is no provision for a game misconduct for this rule.

48.5 Match Penalty – The Referee, at his discretion, may assess a match penalty if, in his judgment, the player attempted to or deliberately injured his opponent with an illegal check to the head.

If deemed appropriate, supplementary discipline can be applied by the Commissioner at his discretion.

NHL suspends Jody Shelley two games for check from behind on Adam McQuaid


As we mentioned during the weekend, the NHL held a disciplinary meeting with Philadelphia Flyers tough guy Jody Shelley today regarding his hit from behind on Boston Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid.

The league made a pretty reasonable decision, handing the Flyers enforcer a two-game suspension for the hit. You can view video of the suspension-worthy boarding check at the bottom of this post.

Shelley received a five-minute major and game misconduct for the hit during the game itself. He will give up $11,827.96 in salary, which will go to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund, according to the league. The two games Shelley will miss via suspension are Tuesday’s game versus the Pittsburgh Penguins and Wednesday’s match against the Montreal Canadiens.

He will be eligible to return during Saturday’s game against the New York Rangers, if the team decides to dress the limited fighter.

To his credit, Shelley apologized for the hit. To just about everyone’s relief, it also sounds like McQuaid might be OK (he at least is saying it isn’t a head injury).

Shelley apologized to McQuaid at the time of the incident and in the hallway outside the dressing rooms. The 24-year-old defenseman did return to the ice in the third period.

“You know, he was saying to me, I could hear him on the ice saying that he didn’t mean to, so I guess, I’m not sure if maybe I don’t know if he hit a rut or what happened, but he was saying he didn’t mean to,” McQuaid said. “When I was coming off the ice, (Shelley) was waiting for me there. He said he was sorry and he didn’t mean to, so I just kind of got to take what he says.”

McQuaid said he was a little sore and stiff, but reiterated to reporters after the game that it was not a head injury.

“They did a few tests and I got checked out and everything,” he said.

It seems like the NHL made the right call compared to previous rulings, but what do you think? Is the punishment too light, too severe or just right? Let us know in the comments.