New years, new rules — did the NHL get it right?

With the start of a new season, brings with it some new rules from the National Hockey League. This year the league is bringing forth a focus on three keys, they said in a video shared on Twitter.

  1. Expanding their use of video review
  2. Enhancing player safety initiatives
  3. Promoting more offence and a better flow in the game

The league loves to tinker with their rules, as they should, for the fast-paced, ever-evolving game of hockey. While all Jim Dandy on paper, or in this case on video, the big question to be asked is “will it work?”

But before we try and answer the question, let’s first look at what they’re planning on doing.

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Video review

The NHL will be looking to expand the use of video review in-game by allowing referees the ability to review some penalties.

On major, or match penalties (excluding fighting majors), referees will now be able to go upstairs and review what happened. They will then have the option to confirm or reduce the match, or major penalty, to a minor call.

However, they are unable to rescind the penalty completely.

Referees will also now be able to review any double-minor for high sticking. After review, the double minor can be confirmed, or rescinded, if it turns out to be a case of friendly fire.

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The video review will be done to only look at what happened when it comes to the call on the ice. That means referees will not be able to add a penalty, or increase a penalty.

Coaches challenge

The coaches challenge is going to be slightly changed this year as the league looks to expand off the previous goalie interference and offside challenges.

Now, plays that should have required a stoppage prior to a goal can be reviewed. Examples for this include cases where: the puck hits the spectator netting, a hand pass is made, or when a puck is high-sticked to the ice.

Consequences for a coaches challenge is being made consistent across all three categories.

For the first unsuccessful challenge, a team will be assessed a minor penalty. For the second unsuccessful challenge, a double-minor for delay of game will be issued. Teams will now be able to challenge as many times as they wish.

Other rule changes


The league is making a change to rule 9.6 in regard to helmets.

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Should a player have their helmet come off while on the ice, they must either exit the ice, or get their helmet back on “within a reasonable amount of time.” A reasonable time is at the discretion of the referees on the ice, and if the helmet comes off while the player is engaged in a play, the referee may allow them to complete the play first.

Now, a player who removes an opponent’s helmet during play will be assessed a minor penalty for roughing.


A few changes to the faceoff locations will be implemented this year.

First of all, anytime the attacking team is responsible for a puck leaving play in the offensive zone, the ensuing faceoff will remain in the offensive zone.

The biggest, and likely most notable change, is the league is going to allow the offensive team which faceoff dot they want in four scenarios:

  1. Following an icing
  2. Following a goalie freeze on a shot from outside the red line
  3. Following a defensive skater unintentionally dislodging the net
  4. The first faceoff to start a powerplay

Line changes

A decade after the league implemented a rule that a defensive team can’t change after icing the puck, the NHL has added two more scenarios when a defensive team couldn’t change.

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The first is when a goalie freezes the puck on any shot from outside the center red line with the second being when a defensive player knocks the net off its moorings unintentionally. This doesn’t, however, include a goalie knocking the net off.

A penalty remains for a player intentionally knocking the net off its moorings.

No time-out shall be granted for the defensive team, and no commercial time-out will be allowed.

What does it all mean?

I’m relatively okay with the large majority of these rule changes. We’ve seen it where a major penalty has seriously affected the outcome of a game *cough* vegas golden knights in the playoffs *cough*. So while there are still lots of people who are anti-review, I think the league is right in making sure they are correct in these cases.

The coaches challenge change I don’t think will be too major, or have too many impacts. Again, I think it’s a good thing the league is doing what they can to ensure they get calls right — especially when there’s a goal that could change the outcome of the game.

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The helmet rules only make sense. It’s dangerous to play without a helmet.

Faceoffs, to me, are one of the biggest and potentially most significant changes. The league is looking to increase scoring and increase the entertainment value all the time. Now, teams are going to be able to utilize their best faceoff man in some key scenarios.

There’s a good chance the defensive team is likely dogged after icing the puck. This means the offensive team has a chance to take advantage quick and hopefully score. On the powerplay, too, I think there’s some hope that having the offensive team pick their draw location will increase some scoring.

But on these notes, time will tell if there’s any impact.

On Twitter: @zjlaing

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