NHL toughens stand on blows to the head

Posted: Thursday, October 04, 2001

TORONTO (AP) -- The NHL intends to take a tougher stand on blows to the head this season and is considering changes regarding equipment and rinks in hopes of limiting concussions and other injuries.

Players will be encouraged to wear visors and will have to tighten chin straps.

The moves are being made following recommendations from a panel chaired by former NHL goaltender Dave Dryden. Also on the panel were NHL and team executives, players and NHLPA executives, team physicians and trainers, on-ice officials, equipment managers and manufacturers.

The recommendations, all approved by the NHL board of governors, include:

--a hard line on slashing and blows to the head. Any punch, slash or elbow to the head will be penalized. Significant two-handed slashes could result in suspensions.

--strict enforcement of rules governing line changes, delay of game, diving, obstruction and timeouts.

In equipment-related moves:

--A player must be issued a new certified helmet at the beginning of every season.

--Equipment manufacturers are to create protective gear for the elbows and shoulders for the 2002-03 season that covers exposed hard-plastic surfaces with softer padding. The hard-plastic pads are partly blamed for concussions.

--The NHL will look into setting guidelines for sticks and other equipment.

The league also promises to aim for greater use of seamless glass in new rinks. An experimental glass is in place at the new arena in Dallas in an effort to improve its flexibility and ability to absorb contact.

Other moves call for:

--standardizing the glass in front of the penalty and timer's benches to a height of just more than 4 feet.

--improving the quality of ice through experimentation with water mixtures, ice-making procedures and maintenance.

--strict enforcement of time restrictions for on-ice activity for pregame skates, intermissions and TV timeouts to ensure premium ice quality.

--pyrotechnic displays prohibited before and during game; laser shows permitted when no smoke or mist is used.

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