The Western Hockey League has some rule changes on the way for 2016-17, including one that will change the way goals are scored.

The modifications were adopted at the league’s Annual General Meeting, held in Vancouver in June.


Puck Off Skates Rule Clarification

The WHL clarified the rule regarding pucks off players’ skates which enter the net. The clarification states that, unless the puck is in the goal crease, a puck that enters the net off of a player’s skate shall be ruled a goal. This will eliminate the need for a decision by the referee and/or video goal judge as to whether it was a distinct kicking motion or not.

NHL referee Mike Leggo’s demonstration is now a moot point in the WHL.   The phrase “distinct kicking motion” has been eliminated from the WHL rulebook.  No longer will fans anxiously wait to find out the reviewer’s interpretation of a skate movement that resulted in a goal. 

This is rule simplification at its finest.  A puck off a skate outside of the crease is a good goal.  For safety’s sake, goals cannot be scored by kicking at a puck in the crease.  It’ll be interesting to see the impact of this rule, and if certain players or teams can take advantage.   Other leagues will also be waiting to see how it plays out, both in regards to scoring and safety.

The WHL is also following the NHL’s lead on two additional changes.

Hybrid Icing

Successfully proven in the National Hockey League, the WHL will introduce hybrid icing next season.

There are two decisions a linesman must make under hybrid icing rules. First, he must determine that the shot from a player’s own side of center ice will cross the icing line in the attacking zone. Second, he must determine whether a defending skater or attacking skater would be the first to touch the puck.

This second decision must be made no later than the instant the first of the players reaches the end zone faceoff spots, although the decision can be made earlier. The skates of the skaters are the determining factor.


Video Replay Systems

The WHL also announced that new video replay systems provided by Hawk-Eye Innovations will be installed in all WHL facilities in time for the start of the 2016-17 season. Hawk-Eye, also the supplier of video replay technology to the NHL and Major League Baseball, will provide WHL Video Goal Judges with improved capabilities for all video review situations.


The 2016-17 WHL season begins on Friday, September 23.