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NHL Players Find Loophole To “Helmet Rule”

The NHL enacted several new rules for the 2013-14 season in response to growing safety concerns. These rules include the new goalie pad regulations, jersey tuck rule and one that affects those notorious hockey fights: under Rule 46.6, players are prevented from removing their own helmets when engaging in a fight.

Brett Gallant of the New York Islanders and Krys Barch of the New Jersey Devils found a way around this rule on Thursday night as both purposely took off each other’s helmets before starting their fight. (Yahoo Sports, Krys Barch, Brett Gallant find rule loophole, remove each other’s helmets before fight, September 19, 2013)

According to the NHL, Rule 46.6 states:

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. Yahoo Sports

According to Tom Gulitti, Barch said “He was like, ‘You can take my helmet off. 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 be sitting there and having everything planned.”

Players now face a two-minute penalty for removing their helmet before a fight. One bout could equal seven penalty minutes for a player. Now that this loophole has been discovered, it won’t be long before there’s yet another rule ensuring this situation never happens again.

“The problem with this kind of behavior is that players are forgetting why these rules were put there in the first place – their own safety. And perhaps, to protect the NHL from a lawsuit similar to the one recently brought by players in the NFL. Truthfully, concussions and other injuries are a serious problem in hockey. Players lose control and don’t realize the long-term effects years of fighting have on their health,” says Frank N. Darras, insurance attorney to the pros.

While NHL spokesman Frank Brown said the league had no comment after the NFL reached a $765 million settlement with former players related to concussions, it’s no surprise they are enacting new rules to protect their players – and themselves.

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