BOCA RATON – Armed with comprehensive statistics about the causes of concussions suffered during the 2010-11 season, the League's general managers spent Tuesday debating ways to make the game safer.
After more than four hours of meetings on Day 2 of the three-day General Managers' Meetings, the group emerged with a mandate to look more closely at the boarding and charging rules already present in the League's rulebook.
NHL Senior Vice President and Director of Officiating Terry Gregson appeared on today's NHL Live! show to discuss the Tuesday morning session. He said referees need to think about three questions as they evaluate the merit of a charging or boarding call: Did the player making the hit have any regard for the puck? Is the player making the hit trying to separate the player from the puck? Or was the player making the hit just there to punish?
According to several general managers, there was little appetite for a universal ban on all head shots, although there has been significant discussion about addressing those hits to the head that can be classified as dangerous or those that are delivered to vulnerable players.
There was also some discussion about moving away from some of the post-lockout rules that opened the sport up and has caused the NHL game to be played at a much faster rate of speed. But according to NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, those discussions did not gain traction.
Among the topics broached in this effort was the removal of the two-line pass and the abolishment of the trapezoid area behind the net, designed to limit a goalie's ability to play the puck.
"We want to focus on the things we just described before picking apart the things we did six years ago," Bettman said.
The NHL general managers will continue their work on Wednesday before leaving to return to their clubs for the season's stretch run. The hope, according to Bettman, is that at that time the GMs will be able to make recommendations to the blue-ribbon panel of recently retired players -- Brendan Shanahan, Rob Blake, Joe Nieuwendyk and Steve Yzerman -- formed during Monday's meeting.
It will then be the responsibility of the group to explore the feasibility of the recommendations, in consultation with the NHL Players' Association and make specific suggestions to the Competition Committee. The goal, according to Bettman, is to make concrete proposals to the Board of Governors when it next convenes in June.
We have no doubt how he can play. You don't, with four teams that are left, you're not getting here without good goaltending. All great goalies left, and [Bishop] is a top-tier goaltender in this league and he's shown it.
— Lightning coach Jon Cooper on goalie Ben Bishop, who shut out the Rangers in Game 5