Hockey fans are learning of all the new little rules the NHL is implementing for the 2013-14 season. There's the new goalie pad regulations, the jersey tuck rule and one that affects fighting. Beginning this season, players will be given a two-minute penalty for removing their helmet before a fight. One bout could equal seven penalty minutes for a player.
Brett Gallant of the New York Islanders and Krys Barch of the New Jersey Devils found a way around it before their second tilt Thursday night: both purposely took off the other's helmet.
Every rule has its loophole and Gallant and Barch have found it for this one.
From Rule 46.6:
Helmets - No player may remove his helmet prior to engaging in a fight. If he should do so, he shall be assessed a two minute minor penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct. Helmets that come off in the course of and resulting from the altercation will not result in a penalty to either player.
Because this loophole has now been discovered, it won't be long before there's yet another rule ensuring that if this situation were to occur again before a fight, both players will be assessed an unsportsmanlike minor penalty. Count on it.
Barch and Gallant would end the night with three fights and a game misconduct for each after the trilogy ended.
UPDATE: Here's what Barch had to say about it after the game, via Tom Gulitti:
Barch said Gallant requested that because he didn’t want to pick up an extra two minutes for removing his own helmet prior to a fight – a new rule this season.
“He was like, ‘You can take my helmet off,’” Barch said. “I was like, ‘All right. Let’s just take them both off.’ And he was like, ‘I can’t take the two (minute penalty).’ And I was like, ‘OK, this is getting pretty embarrassing.’ We’re all men. I was like, ‘This doesn’t even feel natural.’
“I want to fight off emotion, not off sitting there and having everything planned.”
Follow Sean Leahy on Twitter at @Sean_Leahy