The following is the transcript of events which occurred at a secret meeting within the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in Manhattan on August 18, 2012.
New York, NY — Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the unveiling of the newest venture in the greatest game on Earth, the No-Whining Hockey League.
I am Mike Milbury, and It’s my pleasure to announce that this league will feature 18 teams located in hockey-rich cities from across the continent of North America — most of which will be located between the 30th and 50th parallels — that will compete through an 80-game schedule plus playoffs for the rights to the Milbury Cup.
At this time, I’d like to introduce our new League President, Lindy Ruff…
Thank you, Commissioner Milbury…the following will serve as an explanation of the rules for this new and exciting addition to the professional hockey world.
The NWHL is comprised of Eastern and Western Conferences, with divisions labeled Northeast, Central, Midwest and Pacific. It will feature teams located in the following cities: Boston/Hartford, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Quebec City; Cincinnati, Cleveland, Chicago, Toronto, Minneapolis, Kansas City, Houston, Winnipeg, Denver, Los Angeles, Vancouver, Calgary and Seattle.
Pre-season will be comprised of no more than six games, taking place over a 15-day period from September 20 until four days prior to the official start date of the regular season.
The season will begin on the second Wednesday of October and end on the first Sunday of April, with the postseason to commence on the Wednesday following the end of the regular-season schedule.
Playoffs will be best-of-five for the first round, then best-of-seven for all subsequent series through the Milbury Cup Finals.
In the opening round, the progression will go 2-2-1, with home-ice advantage to the higher seed. Division winners receive byes, and the remaining four teams to clinch a berth are seeded 3-6 and are not re-seeded heading into the second round against the division winners.
NB: No playoff series can end when a goal is scored during the commission of an illegal act, such as a player who is not involved in the play or in control of the puck being in the crease ~ L.R.
Rink Dimensions, specs: All rinks must be 200 feet in length, with a suggested width of 85-88 feet.
Goal lines are to be no further than 11 feet from the end boards. Each blue line will be no further than 60 feet from the end boards. The red line will be in the exact middle of the rink.
Net dimensions will be 48 inches high by 74 inches wide, and no deeper than 30 inches. Frameworking of the nets will be made by cast iron, hollowed out six inches from the bottom of each post, into which strong magentic rods will be placed to anchor it to the ice surface.
The netting itself will be fashioned from thick lace, but surrounding the net itself with a slack tension that will prevent hard shots from rebounding back into play at a speed beyond that of the naked eye.
The crease will be a rectangle 48 inches long by 98 inches wide.
All boards around the perimeter of the rink will be no less than 48 inches in height. Above that, panes of plexiglass will encircle the rink, set into place with metal stanchions. Height of the plexiglass will be no lower than 10 feet from blue line to blue line around each net, and no lower than 7 feet in the neutral zone, save for the penalty boxes.
Four main face-off circles, two in each end, will be positioned in traditional spots. Same goes for the four face-off dots inside the neutral zone.
Drafting: All players from 18 years of age are eligible for the NWHL draft.
It will take place no earlier than July 21 and no later than August 10, falling on a Saturday within those confines.
The draft itself will be comprised of five rounds, and will take place each season on a rotating basis, beginning in New York, and progressing to each city whose team finishes last in the overall standings. Should the team which finishes last and hosts that year’s draft finish last in the following year, the team with the second-worst record will host the proceedings.
Each team shall have the option of selecting up to four players in a territorial draft, comprising of skaters and goaltenders playing on colleges and junior teams within a certain radius of the club which owns a pick.
However, there are mandatory height and weight restrictions to prevent the speed and power involved in the game of hockey from having short-and-long-term detrimental effect.
A player cannot be drafted or signed to an NWHL club if he is taller than 6-foot-5 and weighs more than 230 pounds. Conversely, a player cannot be drafted or signed if he stands smaller than 5-foot-7 and 170 pounds.
Roster: Each team will be limited to 21 players (12 forwards, seven defensemen, two goaltenders).
Due to injury or contract status, any missing players up unto the 21-man limit do not have to be replaced.
For players who are forced to miss games due to physical ailments, there will be a seven-day injured reserve for short-term maladies, a 60-day IR for those undergoing surgery for a more severe issue, and then a long-term IR for players under contract whose injuries prevent them from playing through the remainder of their contract.
While there are no limits for the number of players who can go on the seven-day or 60-day IR, there is a two-man limit for LTIR.
Games: The game itself will last the traditional 60 minutes, consisting of three 20-minute periods. There will be 12 minutes between each period, excepting between the third period and overtime, which will be an intermission no longer than two minutes. In between the first and second periods, the ice will be resurfaced, but will not be between the third period and overtime.
Overtime will consist of a single, 10-minute period, during which the team that scores first will win the game outright. Teams will skate four men plus a goaltender aside.
Schedule/Standings: Due to the irregular nature of the divisions, all 18 teams will play each other a total of four times (twice at home, twice on the road) for a total of 68 regular-season contests. Each team will have an even number of home and road contests (34 each) as a result.
The NWHL will pause for a full week for its All-Star Game and resulting festivities, from Sunday to Saturday, on the last full week of January. The game itself will occur on the Saturday afternoon of the break. Teams will be chosen by a combination of coaching and fan ballots. Each conference will be led by the head coach of the top team in each, with tiebreaker being chosen on the basis of total points,total wins, head-to-head record, coin flip.
There will be allowances in the standings for wins, losses and ties only.
A team which wins in regulation is awarded three points, and if the win comes in overtime, that will be worth two points. A team which loses, in either regulation or overtime, will not be awarded a point.
Tiebreakers in the standings will progress in the following manner: total wins, head-to-head record, better division record, better conference record, coin flip.
Officiating: On ice at all times will be one referee and two linesmen.
In the video replay booth, a fourth, senior official will oversee all on-ice action and will be in communication with the ice-level referee as needed.
Replay will be utilized in the following manner: if a goal was scored before the end of a period, if it is unknown whether a puck fully crossed the goal line, if a skater redirects a puck with his skate or with his stick and it is not apparent if the stick was below crossbar height, or if an on-ice official is unable to witness an infraction that results in apparent injury to a skater or goaltender.
Coaches will receive one chance per game for a review beyond what the on-ice officials are responsible for, and that review will be handled by replay officials stationed in the league office in New York City.
Penalties: All infractions shall be denoted either minor (2 minutes), double minor (4 minutes), major (5 minutes) and misconduct (10 minutes).
Minors will be assessed for roughing, tripping, hooking, holding, slashing, elbowing, boarding, cross-checking, obstruction, interference, high sticking, diving, too-many-men on the ice, instigator and unsportsmanlike conduct.
Additional minors will be assessed to both skaters and goaltenders for clearing the puck over the glass unencumbered from the defensive zone, as well as a “dangerous play”
infraction, such as dragging down a player from behind so that the attacker and the attackee disrupt the goaltender in his crease and dislodge the net, causing an unnecessary stoppage.
Regarding high-stick infractions, a simple action will result in a minor, drawing any blood will result in a double minor, and a major shall be assessed if the player clearly targets the face and head with force, or if the resulting action draws a cut which bleeds beyond the point of contact.
Majors will be assessed for slashing, cross-checking, boarding, spearing, charging, fighting, hitting from behind, elbowing and hits to the head.
Any player who fights three times in one game receives an automatic game misconduct. Three game misconducts of any kind results in a one-game suspension, and each successive game misconduct will result in a one-game suspension.
Any player who accumulates three match penalties for intent to injure in one season, without having been suspended for more games after an individual incident, will incur an automatic 10-game ban without pay. Any such player who has incurred a prior suspension of at least 10 games for a separate incident and also commits three match penalties in one season, will draw an automatic 20-game suspension.
Penalty shots will be awarded to a skater who is deemed to have a sizeable lead between he and a defender, and is reasonably shown to have been impeded from releasing a shot on goal. Simply hooking, holding, tripping, slashing or otherwise interfering with a chance on net will not result in a penalty shot, but rather a penalty at the official’s discretion.
A goal will be awarded to a team whose player has a clear shot on an empty net impeded by an opposing player throwing his stick and interrupting the shot. In addition, if a player inside his defensive zone clearly shoots the puck out of play without it being deflected while his goaltender has been pulled for an extra attacker, the opposition will be awarded a goal.
In addition, a crease violation will be called and a goal shall be waved off if the referee deems a player inside the crease on the attacking team is not involved in the play (i.e. pursuing a loose puck or is in control of a puck attempting to shoot on goal). In the case of a non-scoring violation, a faceoff will result outside of the attacking team’s blue line.
Uniforms: Official wear is comprised of one home kit and one road kit.
White/light versions of each uniform shall only be worn at home, and the dark versions only on the road. This will eliminate confusion for both casual and long-time fans during league telecasts.
There will be no allowances made for alternate or third jerseys.
Contracts: For the first three seasons, ALL players in the NWHL are signed to three-year, entry-level contracts, the amount of which will not exceed $3 million for the duration.
If the league wishes to extend further than this three-year experiment, all players have the right to either re-negotiate their contract or to seek an offer from another team.
Should a different club choose to sign a restricted free agent, they must do so with an offer sheet. This offer shall not exceed five years and shall not cost more than $15 million for the duration of the contract. A player’s original team has the right to match that offer sheet, bound by the same terms which limit the years and amount of the original, and whose ceiling shall be the above terms of $15m over five yrs.
Thank you very much. I trust that this introduction will give you a proper idea of what we’re trying to accomplish in light of the impending changes the NHL faces next month. We look forward to seeing you all in a couple weeks to get a taste of what hockey used to be and will be once more.