Its not official yet, but according to Elliotte Friedman of CBC Sports, there has been a change in the rules governing hits to the head in the NHL. Old rule was:
A hit resulting in contact with an opponent's head where the head is targeted and the principal point of contact is not permitted.
Now the new rule declares illegal "a hit resulting in contact with an opponent's head where the head was the main point of contact and such contact to the head was avoidable."
If true, this is a significant change. It used to be that as long as the head is not an obvious target, its a clean hit. Now the players will have to avoid hitting the head if possible. To me, this seems a sensible step given recent news of long-term effects of concussions. And, of course, This should make life easier for players like Skinner.
Everything will depend on this will be enforces. The criteria for determining what "avoidable" is should be:
First, whether the player attempted to hit squarely through the opponent's body and the head was not "picked" as a result of poor timing, poor angle of approach or unnecessary extension of the body upward or outward.
Second, whether the opponent put himself in a vulnerable position by assuming a posture that made head contact on an otherwise full body check unavoidable.
Third, whether the opponent materially changed the position of his body or head immediately prior to or simultaneously with the hit in a way that significantly contributed to the head contact.
At any rate, an important change given discussions we had last season about hits to the head.