The NHL apparently has had a change of heart regarding officials' stricter enforcement of faceoff encroachment and slashing violations.
Sportsnet's John Shannon reported that the league sent a memo Friday to officials asking them to "dial it back a bit" regarding the two violations. Although both infractions have long been on the books, the league made it a point of emphasis to have stricter enforcement this season, which has led to a barrage of penalties in the preseason.
And a number of players have been outspoken about the change in officiating. Bruins winger Brad Marchand called the new faceoff standards “an absolute joke.” Penguins defenseman Justin Schultz said, "That would be crazy if it was like that in the regular season. It’s kind of a crazy game out there like that, but hopefully it’s just for the preseason.”
While many players understood the reasoning behind the crackdown on slashing, especially given injuries suffered by several players last season, they balked at the tighter calls on faceoffs. Bruins center Patrice Bergeron told Sportsnet the crackdown ruins players' timing and slows down the game.
“The faceoff is definitely an adjustment. I don’t see how they can keep that going," Bergeron said. "(Taking) faceoffs is a skill and you work your whole career to develop that, work on your hand-eye (coordination) and timing and everything and they’re trying to take that away. … Hockey’s a fast game, and right now they’re slowing it down.”