There appears to be only one change to the NHL Rulebook for 2022-23, but it’s one that addresses some significant controversies from the past few seasons. According to a report from Scouting The Refs, referees will now be able to nullify a major penalty after a video review.
The updated rule, listed as Rule 20.6, is as follows:
The Referee shall have the following options after video review of his own call: (i) confirming his original Major Penalty call; (ii) reducing his original Major Penalty call to a lesser penalty; or (iii) rescinding the original Major Penalty altogether.
Prior to this change, a referee only had the option to reduce a major penalty to a two-minute penalty of the same infraction. It’s important to note that this change does not apply to match penalties.
This modification draws on a rule originally instituted for the 2019-20 season, which allowed referees to perform a video review of any major penalty as called on the ice. While obviously never stated as such, the rule was introduced in response to the controversial major penalty called against Vegas Golden Knights forward Cody Eakin for cross-checking then San Jose Sharks forward Joe Pavelski. The call, which occurred in the third period of Game 7 in a 2019 First Round series between the two rivals, directly changed the outcome of the game. The Sharks, who were down 3-0, scored four unanswered goals on the five-minute power-play. San Jose proceeded to win the game in overtime, 5-4.
It was widely viewed after the call that the incident was accidental and not deserving of a major penalty. The fallout even led to the league apologizing to the Golden Knights organization privately after the fact.