The National Hockey League’s 31 general managers, like may northerners looking for a winter respite, descended upon Florida for their annual March meetings.   On the table for the next few weeks – outside of a hearty breakfast buffet and an inevitable seafood dinner – are some minor tweaks to the NHL rulebook and how it is executed.

Inclusion of Referees in Video Review

The NHL’s Situation Room reviews plays for a number of reason, but the on-ice officials are only involved for Coach’s Challenges for goaltender interference or offside plays.  The GMs are considering expanding the zebras’ role to include them in other reviews, possibly including pucks deflected in with a high stick, goals kicked or batted into the net, and goals scored where the net was displaced.

NHL Director of Officiating Stephen Walkom was open to the discussion “as long as it doesn’t delay the game,” according to

The final decision on all reviews would continue to come from the Situation Room, as it does today.

Rule Rewording

The GMs are also reported considering minor changes to a few rules, notably roughing and charging. Seravalli reports “slamming” being added to the Rule 51, Roughing, which currently reads:

51.1 Roughing – Roughing is a punching motion with the hand or fist, with or without the glove on the hand, normally directed at the head or face of an opponent.
Roughing is a minor altercation that is not worthy of a major penalty to either participant. (An altercation is a situation involving two players with at least one to be penalized).

51.2 Minor Penalty – A minor penalty shall be imposed on a player who strikes an opponent with his hand or fist.

51.3 Match Penalty – If, in the judgment of the Referee, a goalkeeper uses his blocking glove to punch an opponent in the head or face in an attempt to or to deliberately injure an opponent, a match penalty must be assessed.

Major Penalty Review

One proposal included the option for referees to review a play before assessing a major penalty.  The NCAA currently permits review of a play that may result in a player’s ejection from the game.

Shortened Overtime Penalties

Make a one instead of two because of the condensed nature of overtime and the reduction in manpower on the ice.  The general consensus is that a 4-on-3 power play is more dangerous than a 5-on-4 power play. As a result, cutting minor penalties down to one minute in the extra session is up for debate.

Stop Play On Goaltender’s Lost Skate Blade

TSN’s Frank Seravalli also reports that other items up for discussion include a possible rule change to allow referees to stop play if a goaltender loses a skate blade, similar to Rule 9.6, which applies to goaltenders’ helmets.

When a goalkeeper has lost his helmet and/or face mask and his team has control of the puck, the play shall be stopped immediately to allow the goalkeeper the opportunity to regain his helmet and/or face mask. When the opposing team has control of the puck, play shall only be stopped if there is no immediate and impending scoring opportunity. This stoppage of play must be made by the Referee.


Additional changes may be made requiring skaters to wear helmets at all times – including warm- ups, as well as a modification to Rule 63 to result in an awarded goal if the goaltender intentionally dislodges the net on a breakaway or penalty shot, a la David Leggio.  The current rule calls for a penalty shot:

If the goal post is deliberately displaced by a goalkeeper or player during the course of a “breakaway,” a penalty shot will be awarded to the non-offending team, which shot shall be taken by the player last in possession of the puck.


All proposals would have to be formally reviewed and approved by the NHLPA and the league’s Board of Governors prior to inclusion in the rule book.

The NHL General Managers’ meetings run through March 6 in Boca Raton, Florida.