BOCA RATON, Fla. – The NHL’s general managers didn’t see any reason to expand Rule 48 at their annual meetings.
A sub-group met with the NHL’s Department of Player Safety to go over the topic, amongst other issues. Columbus Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen was reportedly bullish on adding blindside hits to the rule, which was made to curb headshots. According to general managers who were part of the group, this was shot down.
”Watched a lot of video and unanimously felt the rule is working. And they’re doing an excellent job of having it policed,” Toronto Maple Leafs GM Lou Lamoriello said. “I don’t have any numbers. There were no statistics presented in there. You look at isolated incidents and try to see how they could have been prevented, if they could have been prevented and is it part of hitting in the game. But certainly everybody’s concerned about the safety. We had a lot of people in the room today.”
Part of Kekalainen's issue had to do with a hit his captain Nick Foligno received from Carolina Hurricanes forward Brad Malone in January. Malone was not suspended on the play.
The group that discussed these hits included Minnesota Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher, Tampa Bay Lightning GM Steve Yzerman, Kekalainen, Boston Bruins general manager Don Sweeney, New York Islanders general manager Garth Snow, Florida Panthers general manager Dale Tallon, Winnipeg Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff, Lamoriello and Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland.
“We’ll probably get back in the big group tomorrow and summarize what we talked about but my sense is right now I don’t see a change and personally I don’t see a need for a change,” Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman said.
Bergevin mum on coach: Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin would not discuss the status of coach Michel Therrien.
There was a report earlier Tuesday that Therrien would return to the Canadiens next season. The Habs started the year 9-0-0, but will likely miss the postseason. This has led to many questions about Therrien’s job status.
“I’m not discussing that. I’m not going to talk about my coach today. But don’t believe any reports you read, by the way,” Bergevin said.
Sub-group day: One of the general manager sub-groups went over offense and discussed various ways to boost goal scoring. One idea included not allowing a penalty killing team to ice the puck. Another involved starting a faceoff in the penalty killing team's zone at the start of a new period, rather than at center ice.
General managers believed that teams on the penalty kill were rewarded too much by either situation.
“In these meetings you throw a lot of spaghetti up on the wall,” Nashville Predators general manager David Poile said.
Said San Jose Sharks GM Doug Wilson on PK icing, “Why would you reward a team that’s penalized to do something they can’t do at any point of the game?”
Buffalo Sabres general manager Tim Murray advocated a time limit for players starting a breakout in the trapezoid behind their goal net.
“It’s just an idea to bring, see who can contribute to it. Will we even consider it? It’s a time limit. I see guys standing there for five seconds while four other guys change. Then, he skates away from the puck, but it’s still sitting there and he changes. Then, by the time the new ‘D’ comes on, it’s 20 seconds and we’re still sitting there,” Murray said.
What’s left?: The league’s general managers still haven’t discussed possible rules for an expansion draft or tweaks to the NHL’s entry draft. Those will probably be brought up on the final day of meetings Wednesday.
The expansion draft talk won’t be taken lightly. Teams want to protect their players and many want to get a sense on how the NHL will move forward if they opt to add groups from Las Vegas and Quebec City – the two areas that put in expansion applications. In the past the league has said expansion teams will have more of a chance to compete with a deeper draft than previous years.
“I’m concerned about the Florida Panthers,” said team general manager Dale Tallon. “I want to make sure that I can protect what we have built up here. It’s taken long, hard hours. We see a bright future. I don’t want that taken away from us.”
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