NHL Helmet Rules Already Circumvented by Removing Each Other's Gear

Image: NHL Helmet Rules Already Circumvented by Removing Each Other's Gear New York Islanders' Brett Gallant, left, fights with New Jersey Devils' Krys Barch, Sept. 19, 2013, in Newark, NJ.

Wednesday, 02 Oct 2013 11:36 AM

By Clyde Hughes

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NHL players have already figured out a way to circumvent new helmet rules that penalize players for taking off their headgear before fighting.

In a fight between the New York Islanders' Brett Gallant and New Jersey Devils' Krys Barch on Sept. 19, each player took off the other's helmet before the fight to avoid the two-minute penalty the league now imposes, NorthJersey.com reported.

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NHL's revised Rule 46.6 says: "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."

Barch said that Gallant requested the move so both could avoid the extra minutes on top of the five minutes they would get for fighting.

"He was like, 'You can take my helmet off,' " Barch told NorthJersey.com. "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."

While the blatant effort to get around the new helmet rule in the preseason gives the NHL plenty of time to address the issue, Brian Stubits of CBS Sports said he wonders if the rule would just lead to more creative ways to circumvent it. 

"But what can the NHL do, penalize a player for his helmet coming off before a fight whether he or the opponent does it? In that case who deserves the punishment in the form of a minor penalty? It's a sticky situation," Stubits wrote Sept. 20.

"Contrary to popular belief, the people that run the NHL are intelligent folks. They had to see this coming. It was so painfully obvious it was going to happen. The question is will the NHL try to do any more to stop it? Regardless, it won't happen soon, so get used to seeing this pre-tango routine," Stubits added.

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