In the offseason, the NHL approved a rule change which penalizes players for removing their own helmets prior to a fight. In addition to a fighting major, a player can also receive an unsportsmanlike conduct for dropping his own lid.
The change is a revision of an already existing rule - 46.6 in the NHL rule book - which covers players who instigate fights while wearing visors or other facial protection.
As a result of the change, there have been a handful of fights in the preseason and the early stages of the regular season where the combatants either removed one another's helmet as a way to get around the rule or simply agreed to take off their own helmets despite each of them receiving the additional two minute penalty.
Recently, a few of the Penguins players who occasionally drop the gloves discussed the rule:
What is your opinion of the new rule?
Craig Adams, right wing - "I kind of goes hand in hand with the visor rule. I’m not a big fan of the visor rule. Basically, they want guys fighting with visors on. I’m not a big fan. I don’t think guys should be taking their helmets off before fights anyway. So if you don’t have a visor on, you don’t have to take your helmet off.
(Note: The "visor rule" - or Rule 46.6 in the NHL's rulebook - calls for a player wearing a visor to get an additional unsportsmanlike conduct penalty if officials rule he instigated a fight.)
Deryk Engelland (above, fighting New Jersey's Krys Barch last season), defensemen - "It happened to me once in the [AHL] against Jeremy Yablonski. Instead of wasting time … get them both off so you don’t mark up your hands. I guess it’s preference if you want that protection. If both guys are willing to do it, I don’t see what the big deal is."
Tanner Glass, left wing - "It’s just the start of taking fighting out of the game. It’s the first step. I don’t think you should take your helmet off to begin with but I also think you shouldn’t have to wear a visor. I think with no visor and you keep your helmet on that’s the way it should be. It allows fighting."
Robert Bortuzzo, defenseman - "When guys fighting, I guess they’re trying take them off anyways. I guess if you want to protect your hands or your head, that’s just the fighter’s decision. I don’t mind having it on, believe me. I like protecting my head."
Joe Vitale, center - "I think it’s good. Any way to prevent head injuries, the better. I know when I have scraps in front of the net, I feel protected. I don’t’ want to deal with concussions and head injuries. It going to come with consequences every now and then. You might bust your hand up. I don’t think it’s the end of the world. Plus with me wearing a visor, there was always a some sort of confusion now and then. Guys were worried about taking penalties. I was worried about taking a penalty if I jumped a guy with no visor. It was confusing I think we should just leave them on. You don’t mind taking a shot on your hand."
In a few recent fights, players have helped each other remove their helmets or agreed beforehand to remove helmets. How does that look?
Adams - "It’s stupid. I don’t think players should be in that position."
Engelland - "I never had a problem with it. If they’re going to try to protect guys from hitting their head off the ice, I’m sure that’s [the reasoning]. A lot of times, your helmet comes off during the fight anyways. I don’t see what the big deal would be to take it off."
Glass - "I don’t think that’s right either. It just makes it look bush league when you’re doing that. It’s not a heat of the battle thing. It’s a staged fighting and I don’t really agree with staged fights to begin with. I don’t like that but I also don’t like the rule of implementing visors. I think that’s where it starts."
Bortuzzo - "I guess that’s an easy way of circumventing the rule. I guess that’s one way around it."
Vitale - "There’s always ways around a rule I guess. I’m not going to be doing that. I guess if some guys want to do it…. I kind of want to protect my head. Most guys do."
(Photo: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)