We’re only a few nights into the NHL’s preseason and there’s already been a number of face-off violations called.
The league is cracking down on face-off procedure in an effort to curb cheating, specifically when it comes to players squaring up behind the L-shaped marks surrounding the face-off dots at each end of the ice.
As per rule 76.4 in the NHL rulebook:
When the face-off takes place at any of the nine face-off spots, the players taking part shall take their position so that they will stand squarely facing their opponent’s end of the rink, and clear of the ice markings (where applicable). The sticks of both players facing-off shall have the blade on the ice, within the designated white area. At the eight face-off spots (excluding center ice face-off spot), the defending player shall place his stick within the designated white area first followed immediately by the attacking player. When the face-off is conducted at the center ice face-off spot, the visiting player shall place his stick on the ice first.
There’s already been plenty of confusion and ire from fans and players alike. Boston Bruins forward Brad Marchand has made it clear he’s no fan of the new rule, telling the Boston Sports Journal it’s “an absolute joke.”
In addition the face-off rule, there’s also been an uptick in slashing calls, something commissioner Gary Bettman and new Player Safety head George Parros have made a point of emphasis.
"If they seem to be intentful or directed at the fingers and hands with greater force, we're going to be looking to do something—fines, suspensions, whatever it might be," Parros said. "We're going to try to change player behavior."