Two main goals for the NHL’s new player safety department are communication and transparency, Brendan Shanahan says.
The department is off to a good start.
Shanahan, a former star player and now vice-president of player safety and hockey operations, quickly established the new approach with his video presentations for the pre-season suspensions of Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond of the Calgary Flames and Jody Shelley of the Philadelphia Flyers.
Shanahan’s up-front approach is one of the changes fans will see for the
2011-12 season, along with a couple of rule changes:
- Rule 48 has been amended to punish all hits where the head is targeted in an “intentional and/or reckless way and is the principal point of contact.” The words “lateral” and “blindside” have been dropped from the rule and referees now have the discretion to call a minor penalty (they could call only a major penalty under the old rule).
- There will be a wider scope for boarding penalties. This season, a boarding penalty will be assessed to a player who checks or pushes a defenceless player in a manner that causes the player to have a potentially violent and/or dangerous impact with the boards. The word “pushes” was added to the rule and “defenceless” replaced the word “vulnerable,” according to the league.
Also: “However, as is the case with Rule 48, the referee will be able to use his judgment to determine if the player getting hit put himself in a vulnerable position immediately prior to or simultaneous with being hit, or if the check was unavoidable and contact was at the very least minimized.”