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NHLPA proposes ‘band aid solution’ to head-shot rule

You had to know that the NHL players on the competition committee would not just outright accept the league’s proposal for a rule change to take effect this season, that would deem blind-side head shots illegal.

Today, word came down that the players on the competition committee -- Jason Spezza, Ryan Miller, Mathieu Schneider, Jeff Halpern and Brian Campbell -- have proposed a temporary, ‘band-aid’ solution for the rest of this season before revisiting a more permanent rule change this summer. From the Canadian Press, via

The NHLPA first expressed a desire to see a head-checking penalty in March 2009. Spezza indicated that the players are in favour of tweaking the current proposal.

“It’s very similar,” he said. “We’re looking for a Band-Aid fix for the rest of the year in case something happens, but in the long term, we have to sit down together and find a better solution than just tweaking a little rule. It has to be something that’s talked about. It can’t just be sprung on

“It’s too bad because we’ve been talking for two years to try to get something in place, but it’s hard to find the proper language and the right rule.”

I can respect the players’ view on this. The proposed rule change is part of something that the NHLPA has been trying to institute for couple of years now, and all of a sudden the NHL proposes something that is really just a minor tweak to the existing rules.

Making blind-side head shots illegal certainly addresses a very specific problem, but it is far from taking on the bigger issue of head shots in general.

David Shoalts of the Globe and Mail feels a bit differently.

Call me a cynic, but I can’t help but think that the NHLPA’s unofficial response today to fast-tracking the new headshot rule is nothing but an up-yours to the league.


With the headshot rule being a huge issue with the public, the NHL wanted to get it into effect right away but now the players are essentially saying, “Hold on just a minute.” By saying they are willing to approve a temporary rule for the rest of this season, they are trying to avoid a public backlash.

But the players know the league is highly unlikely to go along with that. They will say, all right, let’s follow the process and bring it in next season, and then turn to the public and say, “Hey, we tried.”

I think the players have the right to approve or disprove any rule changes of this nature, especially when they are off-the-cuff, knee jerk rule changes by the NHL as the league tries to save face in light of a PR nightmare.