Is It For Real?

Archived from 2002-03 season.

NHL teams

At the start of a new season, the NHL is again wowing to crack down on hooking, holding and grabbing that is slowing down the game.

We've heard this before and usually by November, after lots of penalties and coaches' complaints, referees back off. Is it going to be different this time?

"I hope they call it. That would be great for the game," said forward Tony Amonte of the Phoenix Coyotes. "You'll see a lot more three-on-twos and you'll see people really skate. If they're going to stick with it, great. Don't do it in camp and then lay off."

In the past it was referees acting alone, this time the league says it has the backing of the executives, coaches and referees it consulted.

"The part about laziness, the part about locking on and just grabbing ahold of a guy, is just out," said Philadelphia Coach Ken Hitchcock. "It's going to be called much stricter, and that way, it's going to reward people who are hard-working offensive and hard-working defensive teams."

"We want the best hockey being played every night, and if that means some teams win a little more and some teams losing a little more, so be it," NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said. "And that's why I think it will improve the flow, open up the game in ways that we've talked about, but I don't think it will dramatically alter the standings. And if it does, so be it."

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