Friday, August 19, 2011

Offside Learns That NHL Abandons Plan to Seek Formal Approval Process for Goalie Mask Artwork

Offside has learned that the NHL has agreed to abandon its efforts to implement a formal approval process for goalie mask artwork. Under the proposed rule, goalie masks would have needed to be approved by the NHL before they could be worn in a game.

The NHL and NHLPA had been discussing the matter for a number of years, with the NHLPA opposing the idea. The NHLPA argued that there was little on a goalie's mask that would ordinarily be considered objectionable. As well, for the most part, goaltenders did not display problematic artwork on their masks.

The NHLPA also noted that in the modest number of cases where the artwork was an issue for the NHL, goalies agreed to make the necessary changes.

The current policy governing goalie mask artwork will remain in place. This policy provides that club equipment managers will photograph all goalie masks at training camp and submit the photographs to the NHL and NHLPA for review. Should a mask be deemed problematic, the matter will be addressed with a view to finding a solution.

In order for goalies to avoid issues, their masks should not include images or references to alcohol, smoking, drugs, gambling, political commentary, profanity, graphic violence, nudity or other possible controversial topics. As well, masks may not display commercial branding (except of course in cases of league-approved logos).

Accordingly, while the NHL will continue to exercise some degree of control over goalies masks, the absence of a formal process is less onerous on players. The NHLPA is undoubtedly pleased with this outcome.

Practically speaking, however, the outcomes are unlikely to differ, as under either policy, the NHL could still express their displeasure with a mask with a view to getting it changed.

Should forwards and defensemen be permitted to dress up their helmets? Discuss.

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