The NHL's new rule that prohibits blindside hits to the head is now official, after having being approved by the NHL and the Players' Association. Thursday's games will be the first under which the new guidelines will apply.
Several players weighed in on Wednesday, when the rule was on the verge of being passed.
"Well hopefully it's not something you have to see too often," said Penguins captain Sidney Crosby. "It's a quick game, obviously, and there may be a couple of guys early on who may forget or may not realize the severity of the rule right away...but with any rule that's what you see. You have to see guys who are made examples (of), and we're going to see that with this rule for sure. But how soon or how much it affects everything, I guess we'll have to wait and see. At any point guys are going to have to realize that."
"We have to make some kind of adjustment. We're doing to best we can to inform every player of what's going to affect them on the ice," explained Sabres goalie and Competition Committee member Ryan Miller. "It's not just about saying 'this is the right thing,' and doing it, it's about informing everybody even if it is the right thing."
Some talked about the fact that it may take the players some time to get used to the rule.
"With rules it takes a little while to work out the kinks. I think it's something that we have to be aware of, and try to avoid taking liberties on someone's head when they're in a vulnerable position. That's really what it's all about," said Penguins defenceman Hal Gill.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman told TSN's Gino Reda that he too agrees that there will be an adjustment period for the players, as well as the officials.
''We have the off-season to fully develop the standard to our satisfaction and we have training camp for the officials where we can work through any issues and make sure they understand what's expected of them,'' Bettman said.
Ultimately though, the players are reacting positively to a rule that in intended to create a safer environment for them on the ice.
"For some guys, it's their role to go out and hit and finish their checks, but when the player is in a valuable position - as you've seen on some of those clips - I think it's a dirty hit," said Sabres forward Derek Roy. "Just a little bit of respect (is necessary) because you can really injure the guy bad. We need to just take a step back and just finish your check but not go to the head is just as strong."
"Obviously guys are getting hurt, and the game is way too fast to kind of keep those head shots in there," added Metropolit. "Even if you're not meaning to hit the guy, you've got to be aware of it and know that it's coming."