Kukla's Korner Hockey
by George Malik on 06/20/13 at 04:00 AM ET
Amidst the rule changes approved by the NHL's general managers (the Board of Governors will rubber-stamp them into law on June 27th), a little tidbit got lost in the shuffle: the GM's are going to eliminate the instigator penalty for starting a fight with one's helmet on given that they're about to grandfather in mandatory visor use, but Colin Campbell tossed in a "wish list" wrinkle while speaking to ESPN's Pierre LeBrun:
NHL executive vice president and director of hockey operations Colin Campbell says GMs also agree to implement a two-minute penalty for fighters who remove their helmets before a fight. So it would be a five-minute penalty for fighting, plus two more minutes for the helmet violation. The new penalty is pending Board of Governors approval.
So fighters will now be required to pummel each other's visors until helmets miraculously fall off, and USA Today's Kevin Allen duly notes that Campbell hopes that this rule wrinkle will slowly but surely diminish the role of the enforcer:
"You are probably going to get to the eventual answer it will reduce or get rid of fighting," said NHL director of hockey operations Colin Campbell. "Is that a bad thing or a good thing?"
If the Board of Governors passes the rule at its June 27 meeting, any player with 25 or fewer NHL games would be required to wear a visor next season.
"I see it as we were taking steps to making the game safer," said Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Ray Shero. "I don't have a crystal ball for five or 10 years down the road."
Visors are worn in the American Hockey League and Canadian Hockey League, and players still fight in those leagues. One thought is fighters will swing away — visors or not.
"It's not like hitting a car windshield," said Edmonton Oilers general manager Craig MacTavish. "There will be fighting."
Yeah, but the better visors are stiffer ones, and while I have no doubt that some graduating AHL'ers will "Kronwall" their visors, tilting them back to the point that they look like sun visors (Kronwall only wears a visor to protect himself from getting concussed when his head is down and/or his temples are hit)--Wings prospect Landon Ferraro is among a growing group of AHL players who barely "wear" visors--some guys will keep their eyes protected.
There's no doubt that when one wants to fight, fighting will occur, but smashing plastic before smashing face will definitely change the art of the scrap.
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