Toronto – The new Canadian Hockey League season will feature several rule changes, effective with the pre-season schedule in all three CHL leagues (the Ontario Hockey League, the Western Hockey League and the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League).
Among the changes fans of the CHL will notice this season are the implementation of the "Fast Face-Off " procedure, and more four-on-four play when coincidental minor penalties are called. In addition, slight changes have also been made to rules regarding goaltender’s equipment regulations, the icing the puck rule and rules regarding 4 on 4 play in overtime periods.
The Fast Face-Off procedure has been used with success in several international hockey events and will be used at the 2002 Olympic Games and the 2002 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championships. The rule will be implemented immediately by the CHL on a trial basis until Oct. 14.
The major result of the implementation of the Fast Face-Off procedure is that the linesman has the authority to drop the puck even if only one centre is in position. Referees and linesmen have been instructed to therefore ensure that players immediately get into proper position for the face-off in order to speed up the procedure, without compromising the quality of the face-off.
There will also be more 4 on 4 play in regulation time in the CHL this season, thanks to the implementation of a new rule currently being utilized by the National Hockey League regarding the assessing of minor penalties.
When ONE minor penalty is assessed to ONE player of EACH team at the same stoppage in play, these penalties will be served without substitution, provided there are no other penalties in effect and visible on the penalty clocks. Therefore, most coincidental minor penalties will result in 4-on-4 play during regulation time.
Other CHL rule changes include: all protective head gear and masks worn by a goaltender must now be of a design that is CSA approved, and on any icing play this season, if the puck passes through or touches any part of the goal crease, the icing rule shall be in effect.
These CHL rules changes help to streamline the operations and rule books of the three major junior hockey leagues, according to CHL president David Branch.
"Rule changes like these serve to speed up the game and provide more entertainment for the millions of fans that attend games in the Canadian Hockey League," Branch says. "They also help ensure uniform rules and regulations through the 55-team CHL wherever possible."
All of the new rules take place effective immediately. Pre-season action in the CHL starts this week, with the road to the 2002 MasterCard Memorial Cup starting with regular season play the second week of September.
FAST FACEOFF RULE EXPLANATION
After each stoppage of play, the linesman responsible for dropping the puck will promptly proceed to the face-off location. The visiting team will then have five seconds to make a line change after which the home team will have five seconds to make its line change. When the referee drops his arm to indicate that all line changes are complete, the linesman will blow his whistle to notify both teams that they have no more than five seconds to line-up for the face-off. At the end of that final five-second period (for a total of 15 seconds, or sooner if both centers are ready), the linesmen will immediately drop the puck. It will not be the responsibility of the linesman to wait for the centre to come to the circle for the face-off if the final five seconds have elapsed.