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NHL, players discuss visors

The SportsXchange

TORONTO -- After seven hours of meetings between NHL officials, NHL Players' Association representatives and general managers in Toronto on Wednesday, one thing was evident: Everyone agrees to the idea of grandfathering in the right to play without a visor.

Seventy-three percent of current players wear visors. A reported 30 percent voted in favor of mandatory visors only four years ago.

According to Colin Campbell, the NHL's director of hockey operations, current players who do not wear visors won't be forced to add them, but for players entering the league, visors would be mandatory.

NHLPA executive Mathieu Schneider, who played 22 seasons without wearing a visor, said players would vote on the idea of grandfathering in visors prior to the competition committee's next meeting during the Stanley Cup final.

"I think by the sheer number of players you see wearing them, you're seeing a big change in visors," Schneider said. "Guys come into the league now having had to have worn a visor before."

In addition to visors, several recommendations stemming from Wednesday's meetings will be made at the competition committee meeting. Coaches reviews' and goalie equipment were also hot topics.

The NHL is looking to reduce the length of goaltender's pads from the knee to the pelvis. Currently a goalie's pads can cover 55 percent of that distance.

"We're talking inches off the top, the width stays the same," NHL goaltending supervisor Kay Whitmore said. "Right now if a pad comes in for a guy and I don't approve it, it just goes back to the factory, they pull the cover off and cut down the board off the top. It's not tough. It's just a matter of doing the due diligence."

The idea of coaches behind the bench having a flag to throw on to the ice in challenge of a call, similar to the NFL's system, is something that simply won't happen, according to Campbell.

Goalie interference and offside were discussed as possible situations the NHL's hockey-operations department would be able to review. Similarly, reviews could be made on miscalls regarding high sticks when a teammate's stick catches a player and a penalty is assessed.

Mike Murphy, the senior vice president of NHL operations, said the group spent the most time Wednesday discussing boarding and embellishment by players.

"Our concern at this point is a lot of the players have been raised with the ability to expose their back to protect the puck and even the slightest shove can put a player into the boards, so what that often leads to is a penalty," Murphy said. "These penalties lead to players embellishing along the boards."

Murphy stressed the league does not want to do anything to remove hitting from the game, but that the embellishment would be continually monitored.

Face-off integrity and hybrid icing were also discussed Wednesday and will be further discussed when the competition committee meets.

Schneider said that the competition committee would add a meeting at the NHL All-Star Game beginning next season. Issues will be raised then and presented at the GM meetings before being discussed again at a competition committee meeting during the Stanley Cup final.

Any rule changes discussed at the competition committee meeting are subject to a Board of Governors vote in the summer.
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