TORONTO - For once, a win for the status quo.
As general managers filed out of the NHL's Canadian headquarters on Tuesday, wrapping up a five-hour meeting, it became abundantly clear that homework - not new rule recommendations - had been doled out by the league's bigwigs.
"What you do is take it home and digest a lot of it," Los Angeles Kings GM Rob Blake said, before adding that "other things will be added to the agenda for March" when the meetings commence again in Florida.
While no major rule changes were discussed (a rarity for a league known for its nitpicking), a number of less pressing matters were broached before and after Tuesday's meeting.
Colin Campbell, the league's senior executive vice-president of hockey operations, opened his media availability by joking about making the goalie equipment larger and the nets smaller in an effort to counteract the uptick in goal scoring through the first month of the 2018-19 season.
In reality, despite several goaltenders raising a stink about an increase in bruising due to a decrease in the size of their equipment, the NHL remains satisfied with its offseason adjustments.
"We did discuss the fact that some goalies were complaining. In some instances, the complaints went with their performances too," Campbell said, not naming names. "There are forwards and there are defensemen that get bruises when they get hit with 100-mile-an-hour shots. We brought that to the GMs' attention. They had no concern with it."
Year after year, the increase in goals has been minor, with this year's NHL featuring one extra goal every five games. Still, the perpetual tweaking of rules and regulations, coupled with a seismic shift toward skill and speed, has affected the game on a grander scale.
Heading into Tuesday's schedule, the average game has featured 6.14 goals, up from 5.44 in 2012-13.
"The players' association is totally on board with it," Campbell said, referring to the remodeled goalie equipment, namely the much-maligned chest protector. "I think that (alteration) and a lot of the rule changes have opened the game up quite a bit."
Deputy commissioner Bill Daly energized the NHL news cycle last week when he told TSN that the NHL may one day house franchises - ideally, a whole division - in Europe.
"The number of our players who are born and trained in Europe and add to the talent level of the National Hockey League, the interest in the sport - in a number of countries in Europe - make it almost inevitable that at some point the National Hockey League will have teams in Europe," Daly said, with NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr basically echoing Daly's optimism in a press briefing on Monday.
There's a lot to unpack here. The idea of expanding to another continent would be no small task. (By the way, this is just an idea at this point, so don't expect the unveiling of the Helsinki Huskies any time soon.)
Some surface-level questions to consider: Would the NHL's quality of play diminish with the integration of additional teams and players? Would the impact and cost of travel outweigh the benefits of expansion? And would the logical landing spots - Helsinki, Prague, and Stockholm, to name a few - be able to support NHL arenas and clubs?
"I don't foresee any huge issues," Capitals GM Brian MacLellan told theScore, referring to the travel aspect. "I mean, teams will go over and play a few games, come back, and play on the East Coast. It could probably work … There's a good balance between all of the European players (and non-Europeans). And there are cities that are following their guys passionately. I think it makes sense, big picture-wise."
It's not a completely foreign concept, of course. For years, the NHL's held exhibition and regular-season games overseas, including matches this fall in China, Switzerland, Germany, Sweden, and Finland.
Actually stationing a division in Europe someday would be an entirely different animal. If the NHL can act quick enough, though, it could capture something incredibly unique.
"We're the first team in pro sports in Vegas," Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin said. "I wouldn't be shocked if the NHL's the first (league) that goes to Europe."
Speaking of expansion, the NHL's almost certainly off to Seattle. It's expected that a vote at an early-December board of governors meeting in Georgia will seal the deal.
Campbell noted that the 30 teams eligible to participate in another expansion draft - Vegas would be exempt from the process - will be given a year's notice of the date. It may be the summer of 2020, or the summer of 2021, depending on the progress of arena construction in Seattle.
Whether it's ultimately 17 or 29 months away, teams are already mapping out possible scenarios that may unfold. The rule book for the Seattle draft, after all, projects to be just as advantageous as the one that gifted Vegas a roster full of contributors.
"You always look at it, but we're here to win hockey games also," Bergevin said of keeping tabs on which players might quality for exposure down the road. "We have to manage winning hockey games and exposing young players. At the end of the day, I'm not going to hold (rookie Jesperi) Kotkaniemi back because of an expansion draft.”
Blake admitted that the Kings are viewing the next expansion draft through a different lens simply because it's Round 2. It's familiar. MacLellan shares a similar mindset.
"I think it's important to look at what happened last time. We'll go over the decisions that were made by everybody and how Vegas used their leverage," said the Stanley Cup-winning GM who lost Nate Schmidt to the Golden Knights. "I think you learn from some of the decisions that were made and maybe some new stuff comes up on this one, you don't know."
John Matisz is theScore's National Hockey Writer. You can find him on Twitter @matiszjohn.