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FAST FACTS // RULING OUT RATS

The league's Board of Governors approved rule changes and modifications this year. Among them:

NO LITTERING: The home team gets a two-minute penalty if a game is held up because of fans tossing objects on the ice. During last season's playoffs, Florida fans threw so many rats that games were delayed several minutes. The exception to the rule: throwing hats on the ice after a hat trick, a long-standing NHL tradition.

OFFSIDES: All players be clear of the attacking zone before the puck can be shot into the zone. The opportunity to "touch up" and return into the zone is removed. Also, the defensive team must clear its own zone before it can be legally checked.

ELBOWING/CHARGING: When a major penalty is assessed for fouls resulting in an injury to the face or head, a game misconduct also will be given, meaning the player will be ejected.

HIGH-STICKING: A player will be permitted accidental contact on an opponent if the act is committed as a normal backswing or follow-through of a player's shot. The high-stick standard has been changed from waist to shoulder level.

HEAD-BUTTING/SPEARING: There will be a double minor, or four-minute, penalty on a player who attempts to head-butt, butt-end or spear an opponent, and a major and game misconduct on a player who does so.

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