International hockey enters a new Olympic cycle and so do the rules. The new 2010-2014 IIHF Rulebook was published during the summer and it will be in place for all IIHF events from now to June 30, 2014. The IIHF Rule Book provides the template for the many rule books used in leagues around the world.
Overview: The major rule changes for 2010-2014
- After a penalty has been called, the ensuing faceoff will be in the defending zone of the penalized team.
- No line change allowed after a team ices the puck.
- Face-offs can only be executed on the nine face-off spots. There are no more imaginary lines.
- The imaginary zone where players (including goalkeepers) can be changed on the fly is limited by the length of the respective player bench plus 1.5 metres from the boards.
- A goalkeeper cannot play with a broken stick.
- If a penalty shot is awarded, the fouled player is awarded the shot.
- If a player loses his helmet during game action, the player must go to the bench. For his own safety, he’s not allowed to readjust the helmet and continue playing.
- When there is a delayed penalty called against a team already playing shorthanded – and a goal is scored during the delayed penalty – the first penalty is terminated, but the delayed penalty is assessed.
- The time on the clock for all regulation and all overtime periods counts down.
- A check or blow with any part of the body or equipment to the head and neck area of an opposing player or driving or forcing the head of an opposing player into the boards shall be assessed at least with a minor and an automatic misconduct penalty (“2+10”) and up to a match penalty.
- The 'lacrosse-like' move whereby the puck is picked up on the blade of the stick and 'whipped' into the net shall be permitted provided the puck is not raised above the height of the shoulders at any time and when released, is not carried higher than the height of the crossbar.
- Elbow pads must have a soft protective outer covering of sponge rubber or similar material of at least 1.27 cm (half an inch) thickness.
The rulebook is revised every four years through a democratic process together with the national associations. The associations, their officials and the IIHF Council members are the driving forces who identify and address potential changes.
And those ideas are not simply implemented by putting them into the rulebook. The proposals need research beforehand because new rules must prove to be legitimate and they must make sense.
The proposals are handled and summarized by the IIHF and in the end it’s the national associations who decide which changes will be approved by the congress, the IIHF’s highest legislative body.
This took place at the annual congress in May 2009 in Berne when some rules were already introduces through rule bulletins, but some with the new rulebook that is in place since July 2010.
Until the rulebook was produced there was much work to do.
There were some major rule changes, but also housekeeping for clarity. “There’s a lot that has a roll-over effect on how you make the rules so that the number of rules that were impacted by this and changed doubled or even tripled,” the IIHF’s Sport Director Dave Fitzpatrick said.
One of the bigger changes is that delayed penalties won’t be cancelled when a team playing already shorthanded concedes a goal.
“It’s a fundamental change that just makes perfect sense,” Fitzpatrick commented on the rule change. “Otherwise you could create an imbalance because the player has done something he would have been penalized for.”
Under the old rulebook it could have happened that a penalty with a few seconds remaining would have continued after scoring a goal and the delayed two-minute penalty was wiped out entirely. In such a case now, the ongoing penalty will be terminated and the delayed penalty will be enforced under the new rulebook.
A rule that was already in place in last year’s IIHF championships and at the Olympics is that a faceoff following a penalty call takes place in the defending zone of the penalized team, no matter where the incident happened.
“It changed the game a lot for us internationally,” Fitzpatrick said. “Also that there is no change when a team ices the puck was a big change. This can make a difference especially late in the game. The idea is that just if you’re tired and you ice the puck it won’t get you off the ice. The only hope is to use a time out if the team has one left.”
There are also changed regulations regarding equipment. Before your first games you might want to check your elbow pads as they must have a soft protective outer covering of sponge rubber or similar material of at least 1.27 cm (half an inch) thickness.
“The manufacturers know now that they have to produce protective elbow pads that can’t be used in any way against opposing players, but to protect the elbow. The idea is to prevent injuries,” Fitzpatrick explained.
Players also won’t be allowed anymore to put their helmet on and readjust it once comes off during play. Now the player must return to his bench immediately to be replaced; he cannot continue to play.
If the helmet is strapped properly, it should not come off. That’s why players won’t be allowed to simply put it back on and continue playing, but for their own safety they have to go back to the bench – or they will land in the penalty box.
Another change comes for the goalkeepers. They are now treated the same way as skaters when it comes to broken sticks. Goalies cannot play or block shots with broken sticks anymore. Players and goalkeepers who don’t drop broken sticks immediately shall be assessed a minor penalty.
Another change that was already in place in IIHF competition, but is now part of the rule book, is that the clock runs down, just like it has been in North America for ages.
“One important reason for us to change is overtime. In our competitions we have a five-minute overtime, a ten-minute overtime and a 20-minute overtime,” Fitzpatrick said. “The point was that we need to know what we’ve got left. Now our game operations are constant; the pre-game clock runs down, the period clock runs down, the overtime period clock runs down, the intermission clock counts down and penalty times run down. It’s a lot easier for everybody to see the remaining time. People do not want or need to see what time has expired; they want to know what’s left.
“Also, in the last minute digital clocks can count down in tenths of a second, which is of special importance in any event with a video goal judge. Game clocks are just not constructed to count up showing tenths of a second.” he added.
“A situation occurred in the quarterfinals at the Olympics when Switzerland played USA in the dying seconds of the second period. On the video you could see the game clock on the television screen counting down in tenths of a second. At the moment when the game clock reached absolute zero the puck had not fully cross the line. That’s a perfect situation why the clock should be running down. The game remained 0-0 as the third period got underway.
“Also in the gold medal game at the recent 2010 IIHF World Championship there was a situation in the dying seconds of the first period where the Russian player Pavel Datsyuk had not shot the puck before the clock reached zero. The game clock time was being counted down on the television screen. The puck crossed the goal line and entered the net moments later but the game clock had already reached zero; the period was over. No goal.”
Another issue that is now expanded in the rulebook, but has already been enforced in IIHF competition, is hits to the head. In an effort to protect players’ safety and to prevent career-ending injuries, the IIHF introduced a zero-tolerance policy on hits to the head, no matter how they are done or whether the victims should expect them or not.
An educational video with IIHF President René Fasel’s message “There is no such thing as a clean hit to the head!” was watched by thousands of fans last season prior to the Olympic Games.
The IIHF’s ideological position is that although hockey is a tough game, it’s not part of it to deliberately injure players and have them sustain injuries that may affect the rest of their lives.
While the IIHF’s banner events are still months away, fans may already notice the rule changes in national league competition as many national associations have already implemented the changes in their own rulebooks for the 2010-2011 season.
Click here to download the 2010-2014 IIHF Rulebook.