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League gives NHLPA time to approve rule change

Nearly 24 hours after it seemed the NHL and the Player’s Association would get locked in an ugly political battle over what in reality is a needed and simple rule change, both sides have come to their senses and the new rule should be in place by tomorrow. From Ira Podell of the Associated Press:

“We have deliberated and endorsed to the NHLPA Executive Board the League’s proposal to implement supplemental discipline this season for blindside hits to the head,” the six players on the committee said in a statement. “Our Executive Board will vote on this recommendation and we will respond back to the League with a decision in the next 24-48 hours.”

It’s an interesting turn of events. Originally, the players were dragging their feet a bit and wanted to submit their own counter proposal of a temporary ‘band aid solution’, somewhat expected but still a bit of a power play by the NHLPA. After word came down that the league went ahead and passed the rule anyways, the Association decided that it’s perhaps best to give their blessing of the new rule.

According to Bill Daly, NHL deputy commissioner, the PA asked for some extra time to vote on the change.

“Following discussions today between the NHL and the NHLPA, including player members of the Competition Committee, the NHLPA has requested additional time to secure the approval of its Executive Board prior to proceeding with the implementation of the proposed new rule regarding hits to the head,” NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said Wednesday night in a statement. “In response to the Union’s request, the League has agreed to wait until tomorrow before proceeding with implementation.

“Our strong preference remains to proceed on a cooperative basis with the players on this important issue.”

That last part is most important, as it seemed that we were on the verge of yet another nasty back and forth between the league and NHLPA. Instead, cooler heads have prevailed and the NHL can move on with a very important change in place. Expect for the change to be officially adopted sometime Thursday.

Remember, it’s not an actual change to add any penalties to the rule book that is being voted on. The change has to do with the NHL’s ability to punish players for blind side hits to the head. Still not exactly where we need to be, but at least it’s progress.

Now about that useless trapezoid behind the goal....