September 28th, 2021

Desjardins welcomes WHL rule changes

By JAMES TUBB on September 14, 2021.

jtubb@medicinehatnews.com@ReporterTubb

The Western Hockey League’s new rule changes won’t affect things very much for Medicine Hat Tigers head coach Willie Desjardins.

Last week, the WHL implemented new rules regarding coaching challenges for off-side goals, no line changes on any icing, face-off violations and more. Some of these changes will be implemented at the start of the regular season, while others will go through a trial period during the pre-season before being put in place full time.

For Desjardins, the new challenge on off-side goals isn’t a big change, but will take a careful approach.

“There’s lots of things that come into it when you just have to make sure that you feel real strongly that the call was wrong,” Desjardins said on Friday. “It depends on the time of the game too, you have to kind of weigh it. If you make the wrong call, how bad of a spot does that put you in.”

Coaches can now challenge a goal that they feel was off-side, with the decision to be determined by the video goal judge and linesman. If the challenging coach is correct, the goal is disallowed, the clock is reset and the face-off goes outside the blue line.

If there is no conclusive replay available, the goal is allowed and there is no penalty. The third option is if the challenger is incorrect, the goal is allowed and the challenging team receives a bench minor penalty.

“There’s just some decisions that go into it but I don’t think it’ll change anything too much,” he said.

For Desjardins, new changes to the icing rule will be at the hands of the refs to ensure they keep an eye on tired players trying to get off the ice.

The new rule will be that players cannot change lines on any icing call. The previous rule allowed players to make a change on an icing, as long as the puck wasn’t iced from behind the blue line.

Another new rule put in place by the WHL this season is that centre icemen will not be kicked out of the dot for a face-off violation. They will still be warned and if they’re given another violation, they will receive a delay of game penalty. For Desjardins, the new rule eliminates guys using a delay tactic by faulting the face-off to switch players, giving them time for a breather.

“You have to make sure you don’t jump the gun twice for sure,” Desjardins said. “I think it also keeps your best guys in and I think that’s fair as well.”

The Tigers announced Friday that four players would be off to NHL camps this fall instead of participating in their training camp next week.

Cole Sillinger, Dru Krebs, Garin Bjorklund and Lukas Svejovsky will join their NHL clubs in the next few weeks as they try to crack the lineup or gain big league experience.

“For them to get an opportunity in the NHL is great. It’s great for them and it’s great for our organization. We wish them all the best and when I see those guys I think every one of them have come a long way.”

Tigers training camp opens up Wednesday and Thursday for intersquad scrimmages, with their first pre-season game scheduled for Friday in Lethbridge against the Hurricanes.

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