TORONTO - NHL referees will be given the power to hand out major penalties for hits to the head next season if a recommendation from the competition committee receives its expected approval.
The 10-man group agreed on the new penalty during a meeting at the NHL's Toronto office on Friday and passed it along to the league's board of governors. The board meets next week in Los Angeles and must give final approval to the recommendation -- a step that is usually little more than a formality.
The specific wording of the new penalty wasn't disclosed but NHL executive Brendan Shanahan says head hits will be subject to a major penalty and game misconduct, as well as supplemental discipline.
An official recommendation from the competition committee -- which is comprised of players, general managers and Flyers owner Ed Snider -- marks a bit of a breakthrough after years of discussion on the topic.
"In the end, we knew that we all wanted to get to the same place," said Shanahan, the NHL's vice-president of hockey and business development. "We all had the same goal. That's why you have a committee like this -- the sharing of information."
The competition committee was created as part of the collective bargaining agreement that ended the 2004-05 lockout. However, the league and NHL Players' Association have expressed differing views on its importance at times.