The NHL rulebook has been updated for the 2019-20 season. Download your copy here. Changes for this season include expansion of Coach’s Challenges; changes to failed challenges; additional ref reviews for major penalties, match penalties, and high-sticking double-minors, and some minor tweaks to lines changes, displaced nets, and faceoff locations.
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) September 17, 2019
While we’ve covered the rule changes previously, here’s a detailed breakdown of the updates to the rulebook with the applicable sections. Let’s dig in.
A player on the ice whose helmet comes off during play shall be assessed a minor penalty if he does not exit the playing surface, or retrieve and replace his helmet properly on his head (with or without his chin strap fastened), within a reasonable period of time. It is reasonable if a player who is making a play on the puck or who is in the vicinity of the puck and engaged in the play at the time his helmet comes off, takes the opportunity to complete the play before either exiting the ice or retrieving and replacing his helmet.
If the player returns to his players’ bench to be substituted for, he may only return to the ice during play with a helmet (with the chin strap properly fastened). No player may exit the penalty bench during play without a helmet (with the chin strap properly fastened). Should he do so, the play shall be stopped once his team has gained control of the puck and a minor penalty shall be assessed to the offending player.
A player who intentionally removes an opponent’s helmet during play shall be assessed a minor penalty for roughing (See Rule 51).
Previously, players were allowed to play without their helmets. The new rule leaves the “reasonable period of time” up to the referee’s discretion. This gives officials a bit more latitude to allow a player to finish the play before heading to the bench or to retrieve their lost bucket. From a practical standpoint, referees would be expected to give plenty of warning to a helmetless player before handing out a minor penalty for non-compliance. (The NHL’s lawyers and insurance company, though, will likely be much happier to have this on the books.)
The above change also resulted in a minor update to the roughing rule:
A minor penalty shall be imposed […] if a player intentionally removes an opponent’s helmet during play pursuant to Rule 9.6.
On-Ice Video Review of Major Penalties (20.6); On-Ice Video Review of Match Penalties (21.5)
Rule 20.6: Referees shall review all plays that result in the assessment of any Major Penalty (other than a Major Penalty for Fighting) for the purpose of confirming (or modifying) their original call on the ice. […] The Referee shall only have the following options following video review of his own call: (i) confirming his original Major Penalty call; or (ii) reducing his original Major Penalty call to a lesser penalty for the same infraction.
Rule 21.5: Referees shall review all plays that result in the assessment of any Match Penalty for the purpose of confirming (or modifying) their original call on the ice. […] The Referee shall have the following options following such review: (i) confirming his original Match Penalty call; or (ii) reducing his original Match Penalty call to a lesser penalty for the same infraction.
In both cases:
Such reviews will be conducted exclusively by the Referee(s) on the ice in consultation with other On-Ice Official(s), as appropriate, using the technology (for example, a handheld tablet or a television or computer monitor) specified in and provided pursuant to Rule 38.5.
Communication between the Situation Room and the On-Ice Officials shall be limited to contact between the appropriate Game Logger in the Situation Room and the Referee to ensure the Referee is receiving any and all video they might request, as well as the appropriate replay angles they may need to review the penalty call. There shall be no other contact or consultation between the On-Ice Official(s) and the NHL Situation Room, or with any other non-game participant.
Note that these review can’t be used to increase a penalty. If the original call was a minor, there’s no review to bump that to a major penalty. Similarly, there’s no option to eliminate the call completely; the penalty can be reduced to a minor, but it can’t get wiped off the board.
These reviews are entirely handled by the referee who made the initial call. The Situation Room does not play a part in the determination of the review.
Goal Judge (Rule 36)
Alas, we hardly knew ye. The goal judge has been stricken from the rulebook. Don’t worry; his job has already been rolled into the video review process.
Video Review (Rule 37)
The section on video review has received a complete overhaul
37.3 Goal Situations Subject to Video Review – The following situations are subject to review by the NHL Situation Room:
(a) Puck crossing the goal line;
(b) Puck in the net prior to the goal frame being dislodged;
(c) Puck in the net prior to (or after) the expiration of time at the end of a period;
(d) With the use of a foot/skate, was a “distinct kicking motion” evident?
(e) Puck deliberately directed, batted, or thrown into the net by an attacking Player by any means (and with any part of his body) other than with his stick;
(f) Puck deflected directly into the net of an On-Ice Official;
(g) Puck struck or deflected into the net with a high-stick, above the height of the crossbar;
(h) Puck entering the net in a proper manner through goal mouth (ensuring puck did not enter net improperly through net meshing or underneath the net frame, etc.);
(i) Puck entering the net as the culmination of a continuous play where the result of the play was unaffected by any whistle blown by the Referee upon his losing sight of the puck; and
(j) The legitimacy of all potential goals on Penalty Shot or Shootout attempts to ensure compliance with applicable rules (e.g., double tap, goalkeeper throwing stick, goalkeeper dislodging goal, shooter cradling puck above the normal height of the shoulders, shooter performing illegal spin-o-rama move, skater’s continued forward advancement of puck, goalkeeper leaving crease prior to puck touch at center ice, etc.)
While the previous rule (38.4.vii.) allowed for use of video review “to determine the legitimacy of all potential goals (e.g. to ensure they are ‘good hockey goals’), it only offered a list of examples to situations where that would apply, including pucks in the netting, pucks entering the net on a continuous play, or pucks that entered the net through the mesh or under the net itself. The updated version adds those entries as specific scenarios, namely (h) and (i). The rule now also includes the use of video review in penalty shots and shootouts (j), which the league put in practice several times last season.
The “continuous play” section – now called out separately – is often a source of concern, especially for plays with a quick whistle; we’ll see if there are any new interpretations of this particular item in the upcoming season.
Coach’s Challenge (Rule 38)
Challenges have also received some updates, most significantly through a new challenge category and new consequences for failed challenges.
Teams can continue to challenge goaltender interference and offside plays. For 2019-20, they’ll also be able to challenge missed stoppage prior to a goal, including
38.2 Situations Subject to Coach’s Challenge – A team may only request a Coach’s Challenge to review the following scenarios:
(a) “Off-Side” Play Leading to a Goal – A play that results in a “GOAL” call on the ice where the defending team claims that the play should have been stopped by reason of an “Off-Side” infraction by the attacking team (see Rule 83 – Off-Side);
(b) Missed Game Stoppage Event in the Offensive Zone Leading to a Goal – A play that results in a “GOAL” call on the ice where the defending team claims that the play should have
been stopped by reason of any play occurring in the offensive zone that should have resulted in a play stoppage but did not; and
(c) Scoring Plays Involving Potential “Interference on the Goalkeeper” – Either: (i) A play that results in a “GOAL” call on the ice where the defending team claims that the goal should
have been disallowed due to “Interference on the Goalkeeper” (as described in Rules 69.1, 69.3 and 69.4); or (ii) A play that results in a “NO GOAL” call on the ice despite the puck having entered the net, where the On-Ice Officials have determined that the attacking team was guilty of “Interference on the Goalkeeper” but where the attacking team claims: (A) there was no actual contact of any kind initiated by an attacking Player with the goalkeeper; (B) the attacking Player was pushed, shoved or fouled by a defending Player which caused the attacking Player to come into contact with the goalkeeper; or (C) the attacking Player’s positioning within the goal crease did not impair the goalkeeper’s ability to defend his goal and, in fact, had no discernable impact on the play.
Those missed stoppage scenarios are covered in Rule 38.10:
Potential infractions that would require a play stoppage in the offensive zone include, but may not be limited to: Hand Pass (Rule 79); High-Sticking the Puck (Rule 80); and Puck Out of Bounds (Rule 85). Such infractions will only serve as a basis for overturning a GOAL call on the ice if video review can conclusively establish that a game stoppage event had occurred in the offensive zone and was missed by the On-Ice Official(s). Where the infraction at issue was a missed penalty call subject to the judgment or discretion of the On-Ice
Official(s), such infraction cannot result in the “GOAL” call on the ice being overturned, even if upon review, the On-Ice Official(s) would have made a different call.
It’s important to note that no penalties can be called as a result of the review.
In order to expedite the review process, Coaches initiating a Coach’s Challenge are required to provide to the Referee, with reasonable specificity, both the reason for their Challenge (i.e., the actual infraction that is being claimed) and the approximate time on the clock when the purported infraction transpired. Failure to provide this information with reasonable specificity may result in the denial of a right to Challenge.
Obviously, teams can’t just challenge a goal, especially under the new, more expansive option for a missed stoppage. Coaches will have to specify the reason for their challenge. For example, “We’re challenging for a missed hand pass before that goal, right around 7:20 on the clock” would be a valid challenge, while “Hey ref, I want to challenge that goal” would not.
38.5 Process for Reviewing a Coach’s Challenge – The League will make available in all arenas suitable technology (for example, a handheld tablet or a television or computer monitor) that will allow the On-Ice Officials, in conjunction with the NHL Situation Room, to review video replays of the play giving rise to the Coach’s Challenge (or, in the final minute of play or in Overtime, the play that caused the NHL Situation Room to initiate the review). To the extent practical and possible, the replays made available to the On-Ice Officials will be the
same replays that are being utilized by the NHL Situation Room.
Once a Coach’s Challenge has been initiated (or, in the final minute of play or in Overtime, a review is initiated by the NHL Situation Room), the NHL Situation Room will immediately establish contact with the On-Ice Official(s) responsible for the call (or non-call) on the ice via the headset and will inquire and discuss with the On-Ice Official(s), prior to the On-Ice Official reviewing any video, the following: (i) the On-Ice Official’s “final” call on the ice; and (ii) what the On-Ice Official(s) observed on the play. During all games (Regular Season and Playoffs), the NHL Situation Room will be staffed with at least one retired On-Ice Official to assist in the review of Coach’s Challenges (including those initiated by the NHL Situation Room), and such retired Official will be involved both in communicating with the On-Ice Officials via the headset and with providing input to the Hockey Operations person responsible for making the “final” decision by the NHL Situation Room.
The on-ice call will then be reviewed simultaneously by the appropriate On-Ice Official(s) at ice level and by the staff in the NHL Situation Room using any and all replays at their disposal. After their joint review and consultation, the NHL Situation Room will render the “final” decision on whether to uphold or overturn the original call on the ice. Once a decision is made, the Referee will inform the Penalty Timekeeper/Public Address Announcer and will make the announcement on the ice.
The league brought retired On-Ice Officials – already working in the league as officiating managers – into the Situation Room last season to weigh in on challenges. Getting their feedback and having them part of the discussion has been a great move, leverage their extensive knowledge of the rules and the game.
The rulebook also now confirms that the final decision on all Coach’s Challenges comes from Toronto’s Situation Room.
38.8 Results of an Unsuccessful Coach’s Challenge – If a team initiates a Coach’s Challenge for any of the enumerated scenarios in Rule 38.2 above and such Challenge does not result in the original call on the ice being overturned, the team exercising such Challenge shall be assessed a minor penalty (2:00) for delaying the game.
If a team that has already initiated one or more Challenges that were unsuccessful, initiates a Coach’s Challenge for any of the enumerated scenarios in Rule 38.2 above and such Challenge does not result in the original call on the ice being overturned, the team exercising such Challenge shall be assessed a double-minor penalty (4:00) for delaying the game.
No more limits on the number of challenges. No more loss of timeouts. Teams can now challenge all they want, with the consequences consistent across the board. One failed challenge results in a two-minute minor penalty for delay of game. Subsequent failed challenges will see the challenging team assessed a four-minute double-minor penalty.
The league will continue to automatically review plays in overtime or in the final minute of regulation.
High-Sticking – Double-minor Penalty (60.3)
While there’s no change to the rule on high-sticking penalties themselves, this year sees the addition of referee reviews for high-sticking double-minors.
Referees making [a double-minor high-sticking] call shall have the option (but not the obligation) to review video of the play for the purpose of confirming (or not) their original call on the ice, and, in particular, whether the stick causing the apparent injury was actually the stick of the Player being penalized.
Such reviews will be conducted exclusively by the Referee(s) on the ice in consultation with other On-Ice Officials, as appropriate, using the technology (for example, a handheld tablet or television or computer monitor) provided for the Official(s) at ice level. On any such review, the only contact between the On-Ice Official(s) and the NHL Situation Room shall be for the sole purpose of ensuring the Referee is receiving any and all video he may request and that he has access to all the appropriate replay angles he may need to review the penalty call. There shall be no other consultation between the Referee and the NHL Situation Room, or with any other non-game participant.
Reviews of high-sticking double-minors can only result in confirmation of the call or elimination of the penalty. This makes sense. Obviously, the player must be injured for a double-minor to be initially assessed. The reason for that injury would only result in a double-minor if caused by an opponent’s stick, or no penalty at all if it were the puck or a teammate’s stick.
It’s up to the referee to decide to review the play or not. Coaches can yell and complain all they want, but they do not have the option to challenge the call.
Delaying the Game – Awarded Goal (Rule 63.6)
If the goal post is deliberately displaced by a goalkeeper during the course of a “breakaway,” a goal will be awarded to the non-offending team.
This change aligns the rule for breakaways with the existing rule on the books for penalty shots (Rule 25.4). Previously, Rule 63.5 called for a penalty shot to be taken by the player who was on the breakaway when the net was dislodged. Now it’s an automatic goal. You can thank Mike Leggio.
Delaying the Game – No Line Change (Rule 63.7)
Teams were no longer permitted to make a line change after an icing beginning back in 2005-06. That concept has now been expanded to additional scenarios, including: when a defensive player accidentally displaces the goal and when the puck is frozen by the goaltender on a shot from beyond the red line.
63.7 No Line Change – In the event that the goal post is displaced accidentally by a defending player causing a stoppage in play, the ensuing face-off shall be conducted at one of the end zone face-off spots in the defending zone. The offending team shall not be permitted to make any player substitutions prior to the face-off. However, a team shall be permitted to make a player substitution to replace a goalkeeper who had been substituted for an extra attacker, to replace an injured player, or when a penalty has been assessed which affects the on-ice strength of either team.
In the event that the puck is shot into the end zone by the attacking team from their own side of the center red line, and the opposing goalkeeper freezes the puck resulting in a stoppage of play, the ensuing face-off shall be conducted at one of the end zone faceoff spots in the goalkeeper’s defending zone. The defending team shall not be permitted to make any player substitutions prior to the face-off. However, a team shall be permitted to make a player substitution to replace an injured player, or when a penalty has been assessed which affects the on-ice strength of either team.
In addition, for both situations outlined in this section, for the ensuing face-off in the defending zone, the attacking team will have the choice of which end zone dot the face-off will take place.
Note that when the net is accidentally displaced by the goaltender, this rule does not apply; the defending team will be permitted to complete a line change.
Additionally, as with icings, teams will not be permitted to take a timeout in these situations, nor will a TV timeout take place.
Face-off Locations: Face-offs (Rule 76.2), Icing (Rule 81.2), Delaying the Game (Rule 63.7)
The rule above (Rule 63.7) grants the offensive team the ability to pick their dot for the ensuing faceoff. Teams will also get to choose the location of the draw in two other scenarios: power plays and icings.
Rule 76.2: The team awarded the power-play will have the choice of which end zone dot the face-off will take place at to start the power-play.
Rule 81.2: Following an icing, the attacking team will have the choice of which end zone dot the face-off will take place.
While it’s not a huge change, teams will certainly look to leverage this advantage to best position their offensive unit, including better aligning for a man at the point, slot, or the far circle — we’re looking at you, Alex Ovechkin.
Puck Out of Bounds (Rule 85.1, Rule 85.2)
Rule 85.1 Puck Out of Bounds: When a puck goes outside the playing area at either end or either side of the rink, strikes any obstacles above the playing surface other than the boards or glass, causes the glass, lighting, timing device or the supports to break, it shall be faced-off at the nearest face-off spot in the zone from where it was shot or deflected out of play.
Rule 85.5 Face-Off Location: Should any player cause the puck to go out of play or become unplayable in any zone, the face-off shall take place at the face-off spot in the zone from which the puck was shot. If deflected out of play, at the nearest face-off spot in the zone where it deflected out of play.
For a puck that is unplayable due to being lodged in the netting or as a result of it being frozen between opposing players, the resulting face-off shall be at either of the adjacent face-off spots or at the nearest face-off spot in the zone from which the puck was shot, unless otherwise covered in these rules.
If the attacking team shoots the puck into the zone and a delayed off-side is indicated, or if the attacking team commits a game flow infraction such as contacting the puck with a high-stick or batting the puck with a glove (causing a stoppage of play), the ensuing face-off shall be in the neutral zone outside the offending team’s attacking zone.
The prior version of the rule had different face-off locations for various situations, intended not to put the non-offending team at a disadvantage. The result? More neutral zone draws. This rule change simplifies the rule, with the potential to boost offense ever-so-slightly due to an increase in offensive zone faceoffs.
That’s it. Pretty simple, eh?
Don’t worry. There’s no quiz for you. For the NHL referees and linesmen, though, their test starts when the puck drops on the 2019-20 season.
Download the 2019-20 NHL Rulebook