NHL GMs debate slipping standards on obstruction, carryover penalties and hybrid icing

NEW YORK -- Say there's another Shea Weber incident. Somebody grabs an opponent's head and shoves it into the glass at the end of a playoff game, as Weber did to Henrik Zetterberg in Game 1 of the Nashville Predators' first-round series with the Detroit Red Wings.

It's worth a penalty. It's worth a fine. But it isn't worth a suspension in the eyes of the department of player safety.

Why not carry over the penalty to the next game?

Senior NHL exec Colin Campbell raised the idea at the general managers' meeting Wednesday before Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final. Carryover penalties would apply only during the playoffs, and only within a series.

Exactly how it would work would need to be ironed out. The GMs decided to discuss it over their course of their meetings next season.

"You want a deterrent, so that at the end of the game, the game finishes and you move on to the next game," said Wings general manager Ken Holland. "The reason you put rules in, you really don't want people to break the rules, right? But if they do break the rules, then you want to have somebody with some power to discipline somebody, and right now, is there a gray area late in the game whereby there isn't a suspension and people can do a lot of message-sending."

Other items on the agenda:

• Hooking, holding and interference: Instead of holding a research and development camp this year, the NHL will hold a meeting of GMs, coaches, players and referees in August in Toronto. It will focus on the standard of enforcement of hooking, holding and interference penalties.

Some GMs complained the standard slipped this season, but Campbell said they needed to discuss the matter in the off-season, when people could put aside their self-interest and speak in more detail.

"We had guys say to us in March, 'We've got an issue,' " Campbell said. "I said, 'What's your issue. Tell me.' 'Well, we think the standard's dropping.' 'Well, standard on what?'

"That's a pretty general statement. Hooking? Holding? Interference? If it's interference, is it off a faceoff? Is it the entry? Is it the forward doing it? Is it the defenseman doing it? You've got to tell us so we can tell the referees what to call."

Campbell said the league asked the GMs to send examples. Nine teams sent examples, and 85 percent of them were interference on the forecheck. The meeting is intended to get everyone on the same page and to reset the standard, which will be outlined via video before next season.

Beware unintended consequences, though.

"They may change it and say, 'We're reducing all this interference,'" Campbell said. "Next thing you know, 'Oh, the hits are too hard in the end zone. Guys are flying in there a hundred miles an hour. We've got to bring in the bearhug.'"

• Hybrid icing: Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke is a proponent of the bearhug rule, which would allow a player to wrap his arms around an opponent along the boards. He is also a proponent of hybrid icing, which would blow an icing play dead if the defenseman is winning the race at the faceoff dots. Both are for player safety, and neither has enough support.

The GMs decided to ask the American Hockey League to try hybrid icing next season, so they can see how it works at that level before deciding whether to implement it in the NHL.

Hybrid icing is already part of the USHL and U.S. college leagues.

"From my perspective, I think it's something that makes sense," Burke said. "But I think the group is much smarter than I am, so we'll see if the American League and try it and see how it looks there."

Why the lack of support? Not enough serious injuries on icing plays.

"Touch wood, we haven't had a serious problem with it in a long time, and the race is exciting," Burke said. "Our fans like it. It's more a sense that it's not the urgent issue that some people think it is."