The 2023-24 NHL season is fast approaching and the league has made some changes to the rules before the first puck drops. The updated rulebook both edits past policies and clarifies existing guidelines, though all changes are relatively minor.
Scouting the Refs, which should be your go-to site for anything involving hockey officiating, detailed the alterations on Friday.
The two actual rule “changes” relate to player equipment. First, the league added a requirement last season mandating helmets in warmups for any players joining the league in 2019 or later. That mandate is now officially within the rule book.
General managers discussed adding the change for multiple years due to the sheer amount of injuries that have occurred during warmups due to errant or deflected pucks.
The Washington Capitals have seen multiple examples of that themselves. In 2019, defenseman Michal Kempny was hit in the face with a puck while wearing a camo hat to promote Military Appreciation Night. Two years prior, Nicklas Backstrom got hit in the head with a puck during warmups and needed stitches. He has worn a helmet ever since.
The second edit concerns the use of illegal sticks. The preexisting conditions about illegal sticks, such as measurement requirements, remain but have now been grouped up into their own rule classification. All of those related infractions are now listed under Rule 10.8 of the book.
Additionally, the league has clarified two other existing rules.
The most important clarification affects coach’s challenges when the puck goes out of play but is not noticed by the on-ice officials. The league added additional wording to the rule book outlining that those plays are eligible for a challenge regardless of which team sent the puck into the netting. Previous rule books contained no such specifications.
The offside rule has also been updated. The new wording addresses when a player goes off for a line change in the attacking zone during a delayed offside.
The full explanation of the rule now reads as following.
If, during a delayed off-side, an attacking player in the attacking zone elects to proceed to his players’ bench (which extends into the attacking zone) to be replaced by a teammate, he shall be considered to have cleared the zone when both skates are off the ice and the Linesperson judges him to have left the playing surface.
Nothing has fundamentally changed with the rule, but as Scouting the Refs points out, the situation needed more clarification due to a call made in a Colorado Avalanche game in 2019.
That play came in a pivotal, second-round Game Seven matchup with the San Jose Sharks. The Avs looked like they had tied that game up in the second period but the Sharks challenged the goal on the grounds that Gabriel Landeskog, who was on the boards for a line change, was offside. It was ruled that Landeskog was still on the ice when the puck crossed the blue line and the goal was disallowed.
Here’s a list of the further, more minor tweaks for the 2023-24 season.
Headline photo: Alan Dobbins/RMNB
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