BOCA RATON, Fla. – Before the end of their annual meetings, NHL general managers recommended two rule changes.
GMs asked for a team that ices the puck to not be allowed to take a timeout. They also recommended that if a team on the power play touches the puck with a high-stick, that the ensuing faceoff should be held just outside the attacking blue line. Draws currently go all the way back to the defensive zone for the team on the man-advantage.
These changes will now be sent to the competition committee and then the league’s Board of Governors for approval.
“I mean it’s not even so much about creating the offense part,” New Jersey Devils general manager Ray Shero said about the timeout rule. “The idea is people talk about how ‘you shouldn’t be allowed to ice the puck’ but when the timeout came into play when we instituted the timeout, all of a sudden, the tired team, if the team is tired that means the other team has sustained pressure and also they ice it … then why should the get a benefit from that if they still have a timeout remaining? That has been talked about for a little while now and that’s something we did today.”
The timeout was supposed to increase end-of-game drama, but using it after an icing changed the initial cause of the rule. Overall, general managers believe it has impacted game play negatively.
“The discussion really was a genesis of when the timeout came into play. There were several gentlemen that were involved in those discussions back when they put the timeout in and the thought process was it was a strategic timeout, at the end of a game, trying to increase the goal scoring or heighten the dramatic effect there. Over time it morphed into using it as a way to rest,” Winnipeg Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff said.
It has also impacted the coach’s challenge since a coach needs a timeout to make a challenge.
“So taking the decision out of the coach’s hands, as to whether or not to use the timeout, which could impact the coach’s challenge or in-game strategy, I think the managers as a group thought that would be a good change,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said.
The only concern with not allowing the timeout after an icing involved player safety, but this wasn’t enough to override the sentiment to change the rule.
“You get a line out there for a minute and a half or longer and they’re leaning on their sticks and they have to take a faceoff and you can’t call a timeout,” Buffalo Sabres general manager Tim Murray said. “A guy’s tired and his brain’s turned off, the other team wins the draw and he gets picked or something and he can’t react. So injury was my only concerned, but I don’t think it’s a bad idea.”
The small recommendations came after two-plus days of brainstorming by the general managers about major rule changes in the distant future and tweaks to the current offside rule, that were eventually shot down.
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