HENDERSON, Nevada (February 10, 2004) - The National Hockey League's General Managers today endorsed a series of recommendations for the 2004-05 season that, if ultimately forwarded as rule changes and approved by the Board of Governors: would prohibit goaltenders from handling the puck behind the goal line, would reduce the width of goaltenders' legpads from 12 inches to 10, would return the goal lines to 10 feet from the end-boards - thus restoring six feet to the neutral zone - and would restore the "tag-up" offside rule.
"We think these (recommendations) are refinements which, when put together, will strike a different balance in the game between defense and offense, and (will) create more offense," NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said.
Additionally, the Managers recommended that two items be tested for a full season (2004-05) in the American Hockey League:
A system under which regular-season tie games would cease to exist through the implementation of a shootout that would follow a scoreless five-minute overtime period. The points system would be refined, with three points awarded for a victory in regulation time, two points awarded for an overtime or shootout victory and one point awarded for an overtime or shootout loss.
The blue lines and center red line would be enlarged to 24 inches in width, doubling their size.
Two clarifications in interpretation were approved for NHL implementation as soon as possible this season. A penalty shot may be awarded to any player who has a clear path to a breakaway and is fouled from behind before he has gained possession of the puck; previously, the player had to be in clear possession of the puck before the penalty shot could be awarded. Also, the goal frame must be completely dislodged for an otherwise legal goal to be disallowed if a puck legally was shot into it previously, the goal would have been disallowed if the puck entered the goal while the frame is being tilted or jostled.
The recommendations were the result of two days of discussion among the General Managers and representatives from the NHL Players' Association. The managers will meet again in six to eight weeks, after the recommendations have been refined. The recommendations also will be discussed this summer by a broader committee, which will be empanelled to examine all aspects of the game, and then would be subject to consideration by the Board of Governors for potential approval for the 2004-05 NHL regular season.