The Cleveland Barons and the Minnesota North Stars have asked the National Hockey League for permission to merge into one team, to be based in Minnesota.

NHL President John Ziegler refused to comment on the proposal, except to indicate that such a merger would require unanimous consent of the board of governors.

"They were quite surprised, but there was no extreme opposition," North Star President Gordon Ritz said of the board 's reaction to the proposal. "All contracts would have to be worked out between the clubs, but I think we could have something definitive by the end of the meeting (Thursday)."

A committee, including alternate governor Peter O'Malley of the Washington Capitals, was formed by the NHL to discuss possible merger terms with team officials. It appeared, should it be approved, 10 players from each roster would be assigned to the combined team, with Washington receiving first choice in a draft of the remainder.

The merger was suggested by Gordon Gund, whose Cleveland club lost $3 million last year.

The league gave the New York Islanders until July 18 to produce a financial reorganization plan and to satisfy a two-year deficit in their payments on expansion notes to NHL members. Meanwhile, the team can conduct business as usual, with player transactions subject to Ziegler's approval.

The board rejected, as expected, a proposal to institute overtime play this season. But it did approve mandatory use of helmets, provided that the NHL Players Association attains a majority vote in favor.

Also, public criticism of officials was proscribed, with teams liable for fines of up to $10,000 if their employes should berate the referee.