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NHL's Worst Rule Contest: "Rule 48" vs Touch Icing

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Today finishes up "round one" of the voting. Thus far, we have Intent to Blow, The Trapezoid, and the Instigator rule moving on into round two. Today, the so called "Head shot rule" vs Touch Icing.

The Rules:

Illegal Check to the Head Rule 48

48.1 Illegal Check to the Head - A lateral or blind side hit to an opponent where the head is targeted and/or the principal point of contact is not permitted.

48.2 Minor Penalty - There is no provision for a minor penaltyfor this rule.

48.3 Major Penalty - For a violation of this rule, a major penalty shall be assessed (see 48.4).

48.4 Game Misconduct - An automatic game misconduct penalty shall be assessed whenever a major penalty is assessed under this rule.

48.5 Match Penalty - The Referee, at his discretion, may assess a match penalty if, in his judgment, the player attempted to or deliberately injured his opponent with an illegal check to the head.

48.6 Fines and Suspensions - Any player who incurs a total of two (2) game misconducts under this rule, in either regular League or playoff games, shall be suspended automatically for the next game his team plays. For each subsequent game misconduct penalty the automatic suspension shall be increased by one game.

If deemed appropriate, supplementary discipline can be applied by the Commissioner at his discretion (refer to Rule28).

Icing Rule 81.1


For the purpose of interpretation of the rule, "icing the puck" is completed the instant the puck is touched first by a defending player (other than the goalkeeper) after it has crossed the goal line and if in the action of so touching the puck, it is knocked or deflected into the net, it is no goal.

Any contact between opposing players while pursuing the puck on an icing must be for the sole purpose of playing the puck and not for eliminating the opponent from playing the puck. Unnecessary or dangerous contact could result in penalties being assessed to the offending player

That penalty is described here:

Boarding Rule 41.1


Any unnecessary contact with a player playing the puck on an obvious "icing" or "off-side" play which results in that player being knocked into the boards is "boarding" and must be penalized as such. In other instances where there is no contact with the boards, it should be treated as "charging.

Why do these rules suck?

First off, both rules were half-measure reactions by the league and the NHLPA. Neither goes far enough to do any real good, and both need to be explored in the next CBA. How the NHLPA accepts rules such as these is beyond me. Both rules are of the type "We're waiting for someone to die before we act."

Rule 48: This rule was the ultimate knee-jerk reaction from the league. A rule they threatened to force through without NHLPA involvement, and a rule that has done little to nothing to remove the type of hits it was intended to remove. The referee needs a lawyer to decipher the rule in the first place, and yet somehow, they are calling it.

This was heralded as "a first step" in eliminating head shots in the NHL. The problem is, the head shots keep coming, the concussions keep coming, at the pace at which the NHL accepts change make it unlikely this rule is ever taken any further.

Touch Icing: Two words: Kurtis Foster. The NHL is the only league in the world that continues to use touch up icing, and no one in the league nor PA can explain why. Just because it is the way it has always been done does not mean it is the way it should continue being done. Ask the NHL about the forward pass, the two line pass, and the rover position.

Your turn, Wilderness. Make your case in the comments, and cast your vote.