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NHL rule changes: League rewrites illegal check to head rule

The NHL has revised Rule 48.1, which focuses on illegal hits to the head.

Mitchell Layton

The NHL has altered the wording of Rule 48.1 to better clarify an illegal check to the head, according to Elliotte Friedman of CBC on Monday afternoon.

The competition committee first recommended a change in the rule's wording to eliminate grey area. The rule was previously worded as such, via CBC:

"A hit resulting in contact with an opponent's head where the head is targeted and the principal point of contact is not permitted."

According to Friedman, contention persisted over the concept of a player's decision to "target" an opponent's head. The NHL and NHL Players' Association both agreed to alter the definition of the rule, which has since been revised to this:

Now Rule 48.1 declares an illegal check to the head as "a hit resulting in contact with an opponent's head where the head was the main point of contact and such contact to the head was avoidable."

Friedman writes that an "avoidable" hit will be determined based upon the following criteria:

First, whether the player attempted to hit squarely through the opponent's body and the head was not "picked" as a result of poor timing, poor angle of approach or unnecessary extension of the body upward or outward.

Second, whether the opponent put himself in a vulnerable position by assuming a posture that made head contact on an otherwise full body check unavoidable.

Third, whether the opponent materially changed the position of his body or head immediately prior to or simultaneously with the hit in a way that significantly contributed to the head contact.

Rule 48 was originally implemented for the 2010-11 regular season as a way to limit head-related injuries in the NHL. However, an independent study recently found that the initiative has not limited the amount of concussions in the league.

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