With the dawn of every new season, it’s not unusual for the NHL to add new rules and clarify enforcement guidelines for various infractions.
In addition to updating details on interference, holding, hooking, slashing, faceoff interference, diving/embellishment and what is considered an “attainable pass” to negate an icing call, the league has instituted two rules regarding players’ ability to handle the puck. (You can check out the full list of clarifications here.)
The NHL added a component to Rule 67, which prohibits players from closing their hand on the puck. This season, if a player covers the puck on the ice “in order to conceal it from or prevent an opponent from playing the puck,” he will receive a minor penalty. The existing rule that covering the puck in the goal crease results in a penalty shot for the opponent still stands.
The other new rule pertains to faceoffs. Both players taking part in the faceoff are “prohibited from batting the puck with their hand in an attempt to win the faceoff” and doing so results in a minor penalty. Once the puck touches a third player, who was not taking part in the faceoff, players are allowed to bat or swat the puck, but hand-pass rules and the covering the puck guidelines still apply.
While both are relatively minor adjustments, they will require some change in tactics from the players. Capitals Coach Adam Oates said Tuesday he supported not allowing players to freeze the puck with their hand, but the Hall of Fame center said he wasn’t terribly fond of the new faceoff rule.
“I agree with the rule, for sure, with not putting your hand totally on top of it,” Oates said. “I’m not a big fan of the fact that, as a centerman, if a guy falls down and plays the puck, he’s on the ground. He’s out of position, so that never bothered me. But five-on-five in the zone when a guy lays down and grabs the puck, yeah, I don’t think that’s fair so they can push it.”
Capitals center Jay Beagle said the new faceoff rule will take some getting used to, even if he doesn’t typically try to play the puck with his hand to win a draw.
“That’s like a last-resort thing, to grab it with your hand,” Beagle said. “So it’s an adjustment but it’s not a part of my play, my plan to win it with my hand. If it happens and two guys kind of fall down, it’s instinct to knock it back. So it’s something you have to think about. I hope that I remember in the heat of the moment.”