NHL imposing stricter enforcement of cross-checking rule for 2021-22 season

Edmonton Oilers' Leon Draisaitl (29) is cross checked by Montreal Canadiens' Shea Weber (6) during second period NHL action in Edmonton on Wednesday, April 21, 2021. (Jason Franson/CP)

We've all seen Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews take the brunt of excessive cross-checks along the boards and in front of the net in recent seasons. This season, the NHL is making a change that should protect its star players.

The league released a video Friday night announcing and detailing an increased enforcement standard to "Rule 59 - Cross-checking" beginning in 2021-22.

Though the rule itself isn't changing, the stricter enforcement is "designed to promote offence and reduce injuries."

Cross-checking is officially defined in the NHL rulebook as: "The action of using the shaft of the stick between the two hands to forcefully check an opponent."

In the video, the league defined how referees will attempt to judge the play and outlined examples from around the boards, in open-ice and in front of the net that officials will aim to call this season -- including the Scott Mayfield cross-check that injured Nikita Kucherov last season.

"Officials may allow players to use the shaft of a stick to guide or push an opponent without assessing a penalty. However, if the guiding or pushing is judged to be excessive an interference penalty may be assessed."

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