The NHL's board of governors has approved a new rule on blindsided hits to the head, even though one hasn't been formally submitted by the league's competition committee.
A league statement posted on NHL.com Tuesday night indicated that the owners unanimously approved a rule prohibiting hits on an unsuspecting player where the primary point of contact is the head. However, a spokesman for the NHL Players' Association said a rule hadn't been submitted by the competition committee — as per the process outlined in the collective bargaining agreement.
"Under the CBA, the league's proposal cannot take effect until it first receives the support of the joint NHLPA/NHL competition committee, and then is endorsed by the NHL board of governors," said spokesman Jonathan Weatherdon. "To date, the competition committee has neither agreed on a proposal, nor forwarded a proposal to the board of governors for its vote."
It's unclear what will happen next. A source indicated that the league is weighing its options while waiting for the union to formulate a response about the proposed rule.
The NHL is trying to fast-track the head shot penalty that general managers originally proposed for next season. A series of recent incidents have put pressure on the league to act sooner.
The statement on NHL.com said the timing and details of implementing a new rule are being worked on by the hockey operations department and representatives from the NHLPA.
The 10-man competition committee is comprised of five players, four general managers and Philadelphia Flyers owner Ed Snider. Jason Spezza, one of the players on the committee, said Monday that the union wanted to tweak the proposal it received from the GMs.
It's expected to submit the change this week.
"We've talked about some things and we have to bounce it back off the league now," said Spezza. "We've come to a decision that we want to do something, but the league has to agree to what we want to do."
There is clearly a desire for some kind change from all sides.
Florida Panthers forward David Booth missed 45 games this season after getting hammered by Philadelphia Flyers captain Mike Richards — a play that was legal at the time, but would not be tolerated under the proposed rule.
On Tuesday morning, Booth indicated that he thought change was coming.
"There's been a lot of incidents this year," he said. "I think they've got to take a step. It's been a thing that's been talked about a lot so I think there's going to be some progress made."