Punishment for physical abuse of officials, such as the recent incident in which Paul Holmgren of the Philadelphia Flyers punched referee Andy Van Hellemond, will be determined by a panel of players, coaches, officials and league staff, the National Hockey League and NHL Officials Association announced yesterday.
NHL President John Ziegler and the officials' lawyer, Jim Beatty, released a joint statement after two days of meetings that said the "blue ribbon" panel would be in place before the start of the 1982-83 season.
In the meantime, the NHL has agreed to hand out "much more severe" penalties for abuse of officials than have been given in the past.
The statement did not go into specifics, but used Holmgren's $500 fine and six-game suspension and an eight-game suspension handed the Flyers' Barry Ashbee in 1973 as examples of past disciplinary measures for striking game officials.
"We recorded our concern with regards to the Holmgren decision," said Beatty. "We recognize that of greater importance is the change of penalty procedures to provide minimum suspensions in the rules of the NHL for any physical abuse to the person of an official.
"We also accept in good faith the notice to each club, each manager, coach and every player that much more severe penalties will be imposed in the interim period if an official is physically abused."
The NHL and officials also agreed to adopt automatic minimum penalties for next season for "direct and intentional attacks" on game officials.
The Montreal meetings followed an outburst of outrage by NHL officials last week over what Beatty called the grossly inadequate punishment given Holmgren for punching Van Hellemond.