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Blindside hits among topics for GM meeting

Concussion spotters, shootout rules, streamlined goalie equipment likely to be discussed

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / NHL.com Senior Writer

TORONTO -- Blindside hits are expected to be a topic of conversation when NHL general managers get together for their annual meeting Tuesday.

The GMs are not expected to make any rule change recommendations. The meeting is historically a one-day session of information gathering that is used to set up the GM meetings in March, which lasts three days. Any potential rule change recommendations typically come out of the meetings in March.

"Fortunately we haven't seen a lot of blindside hits," NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said. "My guess is we'll talk about it, look at some video and make sure it's on the agenda in March and we'll see what happens between now and then. It's difficult, if not impossible, to pass a rule change, if you even thought one was necessary, in the middle of the season. But we'll see. Fortunately you don't see a lot of [blindside hits], and whether it's time to take another look is something we'll discuss." 

Blindside hits became a topic of conversation after one was delivered by Toronto Maple Leafs center Nazem Kadri to Vancouver Canucks left wing Daniel Sedin on Nov. 5.

The hit did not rise to the level of supplemental discipline from the NHL Department of Player Safety because it was determined through video review that the main point of contact was Sedin's shoulder. Blindside hits are legal unless the main point of contact is the head and such contact with the head was avoidable.

The GMs likely are going to debate blindside hits and their legality regardless of the main point of contact Tuesday.

"It's something that we can discuss and look at further," St. Louis Blues general manager Doug Armstrong said. "The last time it was brought up we felt that the picking of the head was something that concerned everyone, and that's something that wanted to be addressed and it has been addressed. The blindside or the side hit, I think we have to discuss if we want that out of the game, and what point is a hit going to be legal is sort of the slippery slope that everyone is concerned about it."

Video: NHL GMs discuss blindside hits, expansion draft

Armstrong said the GMs have to balance player safety with ensuring that hitting remains a part of the game.

The GMs also are expected to discuss the League's new policy of having unaffiliated concussion spotters monitoring games from the Player Safety Room in the League office in New York.

The GMs are expected specifically to discuss goalies coming off the bench getting a certain time to warm up in the event of an injury to the goalie playing in the game.

The League spotter told the New York Rangers they had to pull goaltender Antti Raanta for concussion testing with 11:33 left in the third period of what was a 2-2 game against the Canucks on Nov. 8. Henrik Lundqvist replaced Raanta and allowed two goals on six shots in 6:19 before Raanta was cleared to return. The Rangers lost 5-3.

"I think that's going to be good dialogue, if a concussion spotter takes [a goalie] out of the game, do we want to look at it differently than another player," Armstrong said. "When you're on the bench and you see a guy getting lit up you're preparing. But when a guy gets hurt and you have to go in, you just go in. It'll be interesting dialogue. I'd like to hear everyone's perspective on it."

The shootout and perhaps looking at some changes to the pattern will be discussed by the GMs. There is some support now toward looking into adopting the international shootout rules, which allow for the same shooter to be used multiple times after the third round.

The GMs also will hear reports on the potential for some streamlined goaltending equipment from Kay Whitmore, the League's senior director of hockey operations and goaltender equipment.

The League will update the GMs on the plans for the upcoming Centennial celebration, which begins with the 2017 Scotiabank NHL Centennial Classic between the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs at Exhibition Stadium in Toronto on Jan. 1.

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