The NHL has introduced a number of rule changes for the 2019-20 season, approved by the Board of Governors and Competition Committee. The changes are meant to address several situations that occurred in the previous season and playoffs, while also improving safety and offensive opportunities. The rule changes are as follows:
Expansion of coach’s challenge:
Not only will teams be allowed to challenge for offside and goaltender interference, but now a third category has been added. Coaches can choose to challenge a goal that follows a play in the offensive zone that should have resulted in a play stoppage. This includes a puck hitting the netting above the glass, one that his touched with a high-stick, or hand passes. The challenge will only be allowed if the puck did not come out of the offensive zone between the missed call and goal.
Several instances led to a call for this, most notably the San Jose Sharks’ overtime winner in Game 3 of the Western Conference Final. A hand pass was missed that directly resulted in an Erik Karlsson goal.
Penalties for coach’s challenge:
The challenges are no longer limited by a team’s availability of a time out. Unsuccessful challenges now have escalating consequences, with the first resulting in a minor penalty and any subsequent unsuccessful challenge resulting in a double minor penalty. These consequences now apply to any of the three challenge categories: offside, goaltender interference or missed play stoppage.
Review of major/match penalty:
Referees are now required to conduct a mandatory on-ice video review for all non-fighting major or match penalties. The officials can either confirm the call or reduce it to a two-minute minor, however they are not allowed to rescind the penalty completely.
Cody Eakin’s five-minute penalty for cross-checking Joe Pavelski is likely the culprit for this change, as the San Jose Sharks ended up scoring four times on the ensuing powerplay to take a lead in Game 7 of their first round series.
Referees can also conduct an on-ice video review of double minor high-sticking penalties to determine whether it was actually the correct stick being penalized. These are not mandatory.
A player who loses his helmet in the course of play must either exit the playing surface or retrieve and replace the helmet immediately. Not doing so will result in a minor penalty.
Line changes for defensive team:
The defensive team can no longer complete a line change when their goaltender freezes the puck on any shot from outside the center red line. The defensive team may also not complete a line change if one of their players unintentionally dislodges the net from its moorings.
Following an icing that coincides with the beginning of a powerplay, the offensive team chooses which face-off dot to use. Any puck that goes out of bounds in the attacking zone will result in a face-off in that zone, regardless of which team was responsible.
If a goaltender deliberately dislodges the net from its moorings on a breakaway, a goal is awarded to the attacking team.