The National Hockey League is one step closer to a new rule on blindside hits to the head.
The league’s board of governors yesterday unanimously approved the proposed penalty that would ban hits to the head against an unsuspecting player.
According to a statement released by the NHL, the timing and details of implementation are being worked on by the league’s hockey operations department and the Players Association. General managers first proposed the rule earlier this month.
Panthers forward David Booth missed 45 games this season after getting hit by Flyers captain Mike Richards — a play that was legal at the time but no longer will be tolerated under the new system.
An unpunished blindside hit by the Penguins’ Matt Cooke against the Bruins’ Marc Savard March 7 also increased pressure to enact a new rule. Savard sustained a concussion that likely will sideline him for at least the rest of the regular season.
The GM meetings began the day after Savard was hit.
The new rule also needs approval from the 10-man competition committee.
“The league’s proposal cannot take effect until it first receives the support of the joint NHLPA/NHL competition committee, and then is endorsed by the NHL board of governors,’’ the players’ association said in a statement. “To date, the competition committee has neither agreed on a proposal, nor forwarded a proposal to the board of governors for its vote.’’
Blackhawks 2, Coyotes 0 — Antti Niemi made 28 saves for his sixth shutout and host Chicago took over the points lead in the Western Conference by ending Phoenix’ nine-game winning streak.
Chicago moved closer to clinching its second straight playoff berth and now has 99 points, 2 more than the surprising Coyotes and 1 more than San Jose.
Devils 6, Blue Jackets 3 — Travis Zajac and Zach Parise each scored twice and Ilya Kovalchuk had a goal and three assists to lead New Jersey in Newark.
Paul Martin also scored for the Devils, and Martin Brodeur made 19 saves to reach the 40-win mark for the eighth time. No other NHL goalie has had more than three 40-win seasons.
Senators 2, Flyers 0 — Brian Elliott had his second shutout in two days and Chris Kelly and Daniel Alfredsson scored for host Ottawa.
Elliott stopped 26 shots — including a spectacular glove save on James van Riemsdyk with 3:55 remaining — for his fifth shutout of the season.
Panthers 4, Maple Leafs 1 — Booth had the first two-goal game of an injury-marred season and visiting Florida cooled off Toronto.
Panthers goalie Scott Clemmensen came within three minutes of registering his first shutout of the season. He settled for a 42-save effort in the victory.
Lightning 3, Hurricanes 2 — Martin St. Louis scored his second goal of the game 29 seconds into overtime and host Tampa Bay stopped a five-game losing streak.
Sharks 4, Wild 1 — Evgeni Nabokov stopped 18 shots and four San Jose players scored to help the visitors snap a six-game losing streak.
Stars 3, Predators 1 — Loui Eriksson and Matt Niskanen scored 30 seconds apart early in the third period to give Dallas the victory, snapping the hosts’ six-game winning streak.
Flames 3, Ducks 1 — Rene Bourque scored the winning goal on a breakaway late in the second period to lead host Calgary.
Oilers 3, Canucks 2 — Tom Gilbert had a goal and an assist in host Edmonton’s third straight victory.