NHL asks officials to ease up on slashing, faceoff violation calls

NHL officials have been dutifully penalizing slashing and faceoff violations. Apparently, however, they’ve been cracking the whip too hard.

According to Sportsnet’s John Shannon, the league has sent a memo to its referees and linesmen to ease up on the standard to which they’ve called the two infractions.

The rate of slashing and faceoff violation calls has been one of the biggest stories of the pre-season.

The latter subject notably drew the ire of Boston Bruins left-winger Brad Marchand, who said the new faceoff standards are “an absolute joke.”

The league’s revised standard was designed to eliminate encroachment – or cheating – by centremen. They’re now required to stay within the faceoff markings until the puck is dropped. If a centre is kicked out of a faceoff and his replacement, too, violates the rule on the same draw, a minor penalty is assessed.

The slashing crackdown comes after long-term injuries suffered last season by players such as Calgary Flames left-winger Johnny Gaudreau and then-Ottawa Senators blueliner Marc Methot as a result of hacks to the hands.