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Chiarelli Discusses GM Meetings, Rule 48

by Hannah Becker / Boston Bruins
BOSTON – The city of Boston played host to the annual general managers meeting this afternoon, where  Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli and all the GMs of the NHL came together to discuss the state of the league.

More specifically, as has been the case in recent years, the GMs addressed Rule 48, a ruling that deals with illegal checks to the head.

Chiarelli did not go into detail of the discussed changes because of chain of approval the proposal has to go through before becoming an official rule, but said he was pleased with the course of the discussions.

“I think it was a huge step, a huge step from, a lot from [Rule] 48 in it’s initial form, which I thought was a huge step too,” said Chiarelli.

The rule, which NHL disciplinarian Mike Murphy said did not come in account when making the decision to suspend Aaron Rome for his hit on Nathan Horton in Game 3, is a recent addition to the NHL regulations.

The Bruins have been on the forefront of the issue of head shots and concussions since it became a series talking point among league officials. The Bruins have had multiple players suffer from concussions over recent years, prompting the organization to become a serious player on the concussion issue.

Patrice Bergeron suffered the third concussion of his career during the second round series against Philadelphia forcing him to miss the first two games of the Eastern Conference Finals. Marc Savard has been sidelined since February with his second severe concussion in less than 12 months and Monday night Horton received a concussion that sent him off the ice on a stretcher and to the sidelines for the remainder of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

On the heels of Horton’s concussion and the subsequent four game suspension for Rome, the issue was discussed once again at today’s meeting and Chiarelli felt the GMs made great strides towards creating a proper ruling.

“How the new role posed rule would apply for Nathan’s hit, we talked about that,” Chiarelli said.  “Again, I know there has been people wanting a complete ban on head hits and I think you’ll find that this, once it goes through the proper channels, I think you’ll find that this rule amendment is a significant upgrade to something that I already felt had a significant impact.”

While Murphy reiterated in his press conference yesterday that Rule 48 did not come into play regarding the decision to suspend Rome, it was discussed in conjunction with the rule today, and many questions arose surrounding the link between the suspension and Rule 48.

“In the wording, there is already targeting, so that speaks to intention. You’ll see a broadening of that,” he said.

“[The GMS] were really good in the way they presented it, the examples that they gave, understanding that it is still going to be a tough call and it is on the ice. But it is going to be a minor penalty,” Chiarelli continued. “At least that is what we’re proposing. And that opens the door for something about discipline also.”

Currently, the rule defines an illegal check to the head as “as lateral or blindside hit to an opponent where the head is targeted and/or the principal point of contact is not permitted."

There is no provision for a minor penalty in the rule, but Chiarelli said that is an aspect that was discussed during today’s meetings.

In terms of Horton, Chiarelli said he has reached out to him and that Horton is feeling better.

“No update today. Everything remains the same today,” he said.

“He is sleeping, feeling better and he’ll get back to me either last night or today. I haven’t heard from him yet today. But he is quote-unquote resting peacefully and the headaches were getting better.”
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