November 09, 2010
TORONTO -- The NHL is adding some juice to this season's All-Star game.
Brendan Shanahan(notes), the league's vice president of hockey and business development, wouldn't provide details because he said they are still being ironed out. But he said the league and NHL Players' Association should make an announcement within a couple of days about changes to the game's format.
"You can put a camera on some guys at the end of practice playing a little 2-on-2 for a juice or a Gatorade in the locker room -- or even those soccer games when they're warming up -- and see this competitive spirit come out in the players," Shanahan said at the NHL general managers meeting. "It's a matter of us trying to find ways to capture that."
At their meeting in March, NHL general managers discussed All-Star captains playing a role in choosing the teams. From Bob McKenzie of TSN back in March:
Pittsburgh Penguins' GM Ray Shero talked about the idea of a change to how the All-Stars are selected. Having two chosen captains "pick" their teams much like how you would in a shinny game. I can't see that happening. Can you imagine Alex Ovechkin or Sidney Crosby leaving someone off the team and giving the "snubbed" player an axe to grind with one of the league's superstars?
After Tuesday's meetings, TSN's Darren Dreger reported that "appointed captains for each conference [would] draft a team from the players selected from the larger group assembled by Hockey Operations," meaning the reserves chosen after the starters are voted in by the fans.
"We know what it is, and we know what it's not," Shanahan said. "I think in the end, it's an entertaining and fun game."
Shanahan continued: "Fans like to be entertained by the players showing their competitive spirit with a big smile on their face. It's not a Stanley Cup final. It's not an Olympic game. It's never going to be that. I don't think there's any point in trying to ask players to run each other through the boards, because that's not what it is."
Other topics of discussion Tuesday afternoon:
Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland continued to keep overtime on the agenda. He wants to keep the GMs discussing ways to settle more games before shootouts. One idea is to play four minutes of 4-on-4, followed by four minutes of 3-on-3, then a shootout -- though that would need to go through collective bargaining.
Support has been growing. But after a record 15 percent of games were decided by shootouts last season, less than 8 percent of games have been decided by shootouts so far this season.
"If the system is working as designed, why change?" Holland said.
Phoenix Coyotes GM Don Maloney brought up the idea of a general league policy concerning social media sites like Twitter and Facebook. The Coyotes already have a team policy.
"We don't want to discourage the personalities of the game," Maloney said. "We want the personality. [Colorful Coyotes Tweeter] Paul Bissonette is a great story and a great personality. But there's certain lines that you can't cross."
NHL discipline czar Colin Campbell said he showed the GMs two examples of players pulling up on hits -- one by the Boston Bruins' Zdeno Chara(notes), the other by the St. Louis Blues' David Backes(notes). The GMs generally seemed satisfied with the enforcement of Rule 48, which bans lateral hits in which the head is targeted or the principle point of contact.
Campbell said the GMs didn't go for some of his proposed guidelines to avoid altercations in warmups. The general feeling is that it's the same small group of players causing problems and that it's not a widespread problem in the NHL.