The NHL’s helmet rule for fights – handing out a two-minute minor penalty to anyone who voluntarily removes their helmet before an on-ice bout – drew ridicule and mockery from the players it was designed to protect. So the League has reportedly gotten even more vigilant about enforcing it.
According to Darren Dreger of TSN, linesmen have been instructed to stop a fight if the players remove their helmets beforehand. Too many pugilists were willing to take matching minor penalties because they’d still have a chance to fight. Now, the League’s going to take that chance away, too.
There is nothing formal about this strategy. It was implemented shortly after the preseason where it became evident players weren't concerned about the additional two-minute penalty for removing their helmets to fight...even though the rule was introduced entirely for player safety.
Linesmen now have the authority to step in, when it is safe to do so, and stop a fight when the combatants purposely take off their helmets.
The first clear example of this occurred Tuesday night in Montreal when linesmen Steve Barton and Michel Cormier stepped in between Montreal's Travis Moen and Edmonton's Luke Gazdic seconds after they dumped their helmets to scrap.
No word if the linesmen receive increased hazard pay for stepping into the line of fire ...
Obviously, if the NHL is going to enforce the helmet rule it’s going to have to make sure the thing has teeth. From a discipline perspective, anything above a minor penalty is going to be seen as “legislating fighting out of the game,” so just following the rule on the books to its player-safety ensuring end will suffice.
So once again, it falls on the players to creatively find ways to flip their lids during their fight.