NHL GM's discuss potential rules changes
NEW YORK, N.Y. - NHL general managers couldn't settle anything Wednesday during a 4 1/2-hour meeting to discuss potential rules changes.
The most intriguing proposal won't even be truly considered until a year from now, at the earliest. In an attempt to curtail teams in the playoffs from "sending a message" in a physical and illegal way, penalties incurred in the closing minutes of a post-season game could be "travelled" or carried over to the next game in the series.
These would be penalties that wouldn't necessarily be subject to a suspension, but also not incidental to the regular course of play. One example could be the hit that Nashville's Shea Weber laid on Detroit's Henrik Zetterberg in the first round. Weber was fined US$2,500 for smashing Zetterberg's head into the glass.
"It's radical," Red Wings GM Ken Holland said. "We think there is something there. Let's all stew on it, let's think about it, and when we reconvene next year, we can further discuss it if we think it's got merit. Nobody else does it, so we don't just want to sit here in a room and in 10 minutes make that determination.
"The reason you put rules in, you really don't want people to break the rules. But if they do break the rules, then you want to have somebody with some power to discipline somebody. Right now, is there a grey area late in the game whereby there is not a suspension and people can do a lot of message-sending, does a deterrent of a possible travelling penalty have merit?"
The GMs also discussed the hybrid icing rule, which combines touch and no-touch icing. Although only one player was injured this season on an icing play, there is concern that races for the puck at the end boards creates a potentially unnecessary dangerous situation.
Before that would ever be adopted into the NHL, the GMs would like to try it out in the American Hockey League. It is already used in college hockey.
Several of the managers are also concerned that the game is becoming too defensive-minded and trending more toward a soccer-type style. The New York Rangers secured the top seed in the East and reached the conference finals by strengthening their defensive play with a team-wide dedication to blocking shots.
After the NHL lockout wiped out the 2004-05 NHL season, a package of new rules to spice up the game was adopted. Something similar could be coming in the not so distant future.
"I like offence in the game and I like offensive opportunities," Vancouver Canucks GM Mike Gillis said. "If those opportunities aren't present in the course of a game, I don't like it and I don't support that.
"What I've seen is the lowering of scoring opportunities. You don't see many odd-man rushes at all, and the collapsing around your own net to block shots and not challenge the point man."
The NHL plans to have a bit of a rules summit in August to discuss what issues clubs are having with rules such as hooking, holding and interference, and what changes might have to be made in the way those infractions are whistled.
General managers, coaches, players and referees are expected to attend.
"I want to know what is real," said Colin Campbell, the NHL's senior vice-president of hockey operations. "Sometimes you can get more at the problem in August after the season has gone away before we start another season."