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Atlanta Thrashers' sale and move to Winnipeg approved by NHL; two rules tightened

June 21, 2011 |  1:43 pm

Jets3 The NHL's Board of Governors, meeting Tuesday in New York, approved the sale of the Atlanta Thrashers to True North Sports & Entertainment Ltd., headed by Mark Chipman and David Thomson. The board also approved the immediate move of the franchise to Winnipeg, Canada, for next season.

Because of the relatively short notice of the move before the 2011-12 season, the still-unnamed team will stay in the Southeast Division next season with Carolina, Florida, Tampa Bay and Washington. The schedule for next season will be released in the next few days. Realignment is expected for the 2012-13 season.

“We deeply regret that Atlanta’s ownership was unable to secure local partners after exhausting every option and alternative,” Commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement released by the NHL.

"At the same time, we are delighted that NHL hockey is returning to Winnipeg and to a fan base that already is showing so much support for its team. We congratulate Mark Chipman, David Thomson and True North on their patience, their preparation and their professionalism, and we look forward to the start of a new era for the franchise.” 

The board also approved changes to Rule 41, which applies to boarding, and Rule 48, which relates to illegal checks to the head.

Under the amended rules, a boarding penalty will be assessed for a hit on a defenseless player that causes the victim "to hit or impact the boards violently or dangerously." The new wording requires the player delivering the check to avoid or minimize contact if his opponent is defenseless. It also allows the referee discretion to determine whether the recipient of the contact placed himself in a vulnerable position immediately prior to, or simultaneously with, the collision, and whether the check was unavoidable.

That's a lot of latitude, and it is going to result in a lot of disputes.

A penalty for an illegal check to the head will be assessed for a hit resulting in contact with an opponent’s head where the head is targeted and the principal point of contact. The qualifying terms “lateral or blind side” for such hits have been deleted.

ALSO:

Kings announce 2011-12 preseason schedule

Ryan Smyth wants to be traded back to Edmonton

-- Helene Elliott

Photo: Hockey fans in Winnipeg celebrate following the announcement the Atlanta Thrashers would relocate to the city. Credit: Fred Greenslade / Reuters

Read the NHL's press release on the rules changes below:

New Wording of Rule 41 – Boarding

41.1 Boarding - A boarding penalty shall be imposed on any player who
checks or pushes a defenseless opponent in such a manner that causes the opponent to hit or impact the boards violently or dangerously. The severity of the penalty, based upon the impact with the boards, shall be at the discretion of the Referee.

There is an enormous amount of judgment involved in the application of this rule by the referees. The onus is on the player applying the check to ensure his opponent is not in a defenseless position and if so, he must avoid or minimize contact. However, in determining whether such contact could have been avoided, the circumstances of the check, including whether the opponent put himself in vulnerable position immediately prior to or simultaneously with the check or whether the check was unavoidable can be considered. This balance must be considered by the referees when applying this rule.

Any unnecessary contact with a player playing the puck on an obvious "icing" or "off-side" play which results in that player hitting or impacting the boards is "boarding" and must be penalized as such. In other instances where there is no contact with the boards, it should be treated as "charging."

New Wording of Rule 48 - Illegal Check to the Head

48.1 Illegal Check To The Head – A hit resulting in contact with an
opponent's head where the head is targeted and the principal point of
contact is not permitted. However, in determining whether such a hit should have been permitted, the circumstances of the hit, including whether the opponent put himself in a vulnerable position immediately prior to or simultaneously with the hit or the head contact on an otherwise legal body check was unavoidable, can be considered.

48.2 Minor Penalty – For violation of this rule, a minor penalty shall be assessed.

48.3 Major Penalty – There is no provision for a major penalty for this rule.

48.4 Game Misconduct – There is no provision for a game misconduct for this rule.

48.5 Match Penalty – The Referee, at his discretion, may assess a match penalty if, in his judgment, the player attempted to or deliberately injured his opponent with an illegal check to the head.

If deemed appropriate, supplementary discipline can be applied by the Commissioner at his discretion.

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