BOCA RATON, Fla. -- Issues related to goaltender interference and crease presence, as well as more defined emergency goaltender protocols, were the main topics of conversation Monday as the League's general managers gathered for the first of three days of meetings.
Other topics, including the much-hyped discussion about potential format changes for the overtime period of regular-season games, are expected to take center stage Tuesday and Wednesday.
The first day, though, was spent analyzing other items on the agenda, including the goaltending-related issues and possibly changing the protocols around the diving and embellishment issue.
"These things seem anal until you get into Game 6 and 7 in the [Stanley Cup] Playoffs; they're not anal anymore, they're important," said Colin Campbell, NHL senior executive vice president of hockey operations. "It's relevant that we take care of these things that might sound minor right now, but they're major elements come the playoffs."
The main question being discussed in regard to the goaltenders is should video review be expanded to include goals scored as a potential result of goalie interference.
The NHL does not allow for video review of goals scored where there is the potential of goaltender interference having occurred. Those calls now are left to the discretion of the on-ice officials.
The managers feel the on-ice officials do a good job of determining what is interference and what is allowable crease presence by members of the attacking team, but the discussion is being had as to whether or not there is merit to assisting them through the use of video review.
"I think [Monday] a lot of it was just listening," Calgary Flames general manager Brad Treliving said. "I think we'll get into that over the course of the next few days. Like anything you ultimately want to get it right. I think the officials do a really good job of getting it right and over the course of the next few days it'll give us another chance to talk about is there another way to build the mousetrap here. There was some good discussion to kick things off. We'll see what the next couple of days bring."
There has been some hesitancy by the managers to allow video review on goals scored where goaltender interference could be an issue because of the lack of role interpretation plays in such cases, as well as the time added to the game with the potential for additional reviews.
The managers have watched video clips of goals which likely would be covered by an expanded review and discussed those plays, formally and informally, but rarely have reached a consensus. Often one GM thought a play should be ruled a good goal only to have another argue passionately for a clear-cut case of goalie interference.
However, the managers polled Monday felt the need to bring the discussion to the larger group Tuesday.
Pittsburgh Penguins GM Jim Rutherford, who was part of the breakout group discussion on goaltender issues, said the appetite for adding video review to goaltender interference goals is growing.
"Just based on the group we had, a smaller group, we did feel that made some sense," Rutherford said. "That has to go to a bigger group and have more of an open discussion about it. I think we're at the point where that's something we’d recommend."
If the managers decide to expand video review for these types of goals, the next question is how the goals will be reviewed.
Will on-ice officials have the ability through a tablet or monitor placed in the penalty box to watch a replay to determine if the call they made needs to change? Will the video review be conducted in the NHL Situation Room in Toronto, where all goals are reviewed? Will it be part of a coach's challenge, which has been discussed in the past but has yet to gain significant traction among the managers?
"The official is the one making the call; they know what they saw," Treliving said. "Seeing it on a tablet or a monitor right there, you've already got the story and you're trying to fill in the blanks. I think there is some benefit to that. But I want to hear a little bit more about the different options and those types of things."
Not all the general managers agree that reviewing goals scored as a result of potential goaltender interference is the best thing to do.
"I don't think we're going to go to video replay, for example, with goaltender interference," Ottawa Senators GM Bryan Murray said. "I think that has to be left to the officials to make a judgment call on the ice. Some nights we're not happy, but the majority of the calls that I've seen anyway so far have been the right call."
There also was significant discussion about how much crowding of the goaltender is acceptable by players from the attacking team, a topic linked to a degree with the goaltender-interference discussion.
The attack on diving and embellishment by players looking for penalty calls has been a success since a system of fines was instituted at the start of the season, according to most of the managers. However, there was discussion Monday about taking another step by having the Hockey Operations department provide a list of known offenders to the officials before regular-season and playoff games.
"You hear little ripples of [diving] during the season, but where it obviously takes a greater presence in the game is in the playoffs," Campbell said. "One of the key questions before they departed the room was: Do you want us informing the referees of who we think the individuals are who embellish more often than others? And for the most part we had most of the managers agree. There's a few managers that don't want us to inform the referees."
The NHL uses video review to fine players for embellishment (Rule 64). Seven players have received a $2,000 fine for embellishment this season.
"It's the hardest call on the ice for an official," Campbell said of embellishment. "It's not easy on video review but it's much easier on video review than it is on the ice."
The managers also discussed a way to streamline the policies around the use of an emergency goaltender, an issue which arose earlier this month. On March 3 the Florida Panthers saw starting goalie Roberto Luongo and his backup, Al Montoya, sustain injuries. Luongo was able to re-enter and finish the game, but the Panthers were unsuccessful in getting goaltending coach Robb Tallas cleared as an emergency goalie.
"We agree that having somebody, a third goalie available, not necessarily a guy that's on a contract, makes some sense," Rutherford said. "We don't want to get into the same situation as Florida did."
The GMs tabled the conversation on adding a 3-on-3 portion to regular-season overtime until Tuesday, but there is a push toward making that change based on results in the American Hockey League. The AHL added a 3-on-3 portion to overtime this season to reduce games ending in a shootout and it has reduced the number of shootouts significantly.
"I like the idea of splitting it up 4-on-4 and 3-on-3," Rutherford said. "It's worked well in the AHL and I personally think it's something we should look at it."