Smart and 20 Years Behind the Times is running a story this morning about how fighters are getting around the NHL’s new rules regarding removing helmets to fight. The NHL should have seen this one coming.

Fighting smart article from TSN

This is the headline from TSN’s web site this morning. Here's the gist of it:

In their second fight of the game, the two fighters took each others' helmets off, getting around Rule 46.6 which gives an additional unsportsmanlike conduct penalty if a player removes his own head wear before he goes at it.

This reminded me of a referee clinic that I attended fifteen years or so ago where the instructor was recounting some of the crazier things that he’d seen from junior and senior players in Alberta. One of those things, as you may have guessed, was a loophole whereby unstrapping and removing each other’s helmets at the start of a fight would prevent a gross misconduct penalty (Hockey Canada Rule 24.c). That rule has since been amended to include the following: “If the player removes his opponent’s helmet or releases his opponents chinstrap before or during a fight, a Gross Misconduct penalty will be assessed.” Take that, keen-minded tough guys!

I would have expected the NHL to have seen this coming, especially given that a precedent already exists, but once again, they have instead shown how behind the times they are when it comes to player safety rules.

Now, about touch icing...