The revamped NHL competition committee (now with 100 percent more Inglorious Backes!) met in Toronto on Friday and approved three proposals:
The outdoor Heritage Classic between the Montreal Canadiens and Calgary Flames next season; more "form-fitting" goalie equipment; and, most importantly, its support for a new rule dealing with blindside hits that was passed by the general managers earlier in the year.
Please recall the GMs seeking a rule that prohibits "lateral, back-pressure or blindside hit to an opponent where the head is targeted and/or the principal point of contact." From Pierre LeBrun at ESPN, at Friday's committee meeting:
The new rule, which was first recommended at the general managers meetings in March, would see a five-minute penalty imposed on the ice for a blindside hit to the head, as well as possible supplemental discipline from the league's head office.
The players tweaked some of the language in the new rule proposed by the GMs but in the end both sides agreed to move forward with it.
The committee members wouldn't go into detail about the changes from the GMs' version of the rule to the rule language they approved Friday. Those edits could come out after the NHL Players Association executive board and the NHL Board of Governors both rubber-stamp the new rule in meetings on Monday and Thursday, respectively.
While you can never exactly be pleased with refs being given another game-changing subjective call to make in a split-second, at least the "blindside hit ban" isn't the draconian leap to a total hits to the head ban; and, at the very least, it'll take away the NHL's excuse for not issuing supplemental discipline to the players with intentions to injure.
Hopefully some details on the "form-fitting" goalie equipment will come out soon as well. Bettman's been a stickler for "consistency" in the size of goalie gear in the NHL and creating more open space for a shooter. But changes to the equipment always conflicted with concerns about reduced player safety.
Bottom line: We just hope Brodeur doesn't have to start wearing a corset.