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GM Meetings

Blindside hits discussed at general managers meeting

Shootouts, concussion spotter program among other topics

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / Senior Writer

NHL GM meetings held in Toronto

NHL GMs discuss blindside hits, expansion draft senior writer Dan Rosen recaps the major talking points at the NHL GM meetings in Toronto

  • 01:50 •

TORONTO -- Blindside hitting, the concussion spotter program, and the shootout were three topics that generated discussion and debate at the NHL general managers meeting Tuesday.

The GMs aren't eyeing any rule change recommendations now but left the meeting with the intent to monitor those three aspects of the game, along with many others, as a way to prepare for more in-depth discussions when they meet again for three days in Boca Raton, Florida, in March.

"This isn't a meeting where you make fundamental changes," NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said. "It's really more of an update."

The GMs specifically looked at hitting from the blindside and discussed the safety element of it, a reaction to the hit delivered by Toronto Maple Leafs center Nazem Kadri on Vancouver Canucks left wing Daniel Sedin on Nov. 5.

Kadri's 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 not Sedin's head.

Blindside hits are legal unless the main point of contact is the head and contact with the head was avoidable.

The general managers were split evenly between those who thought Kadri's hit was OK and those who felt that type of hit should be removed from the game.

"That falls into the blindside hit but legal hit [category]," Edmonton Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli said. "I'm a proponent of hitting. I want to keep that physicality in the game. [Kadri] is a scrappy player, and for me that hit is on the borderline and you have to keep looking at hits like that."

The GMs are torn on whether they need to address blindside hitting or leave it alone if the main point of contact from the hit is not the head.

"There's a lot of different types of blindside hits," Minnesota Wild GM Chuck Fletcher said. "I think there are some certainly that a lot of managers don't like. There's a couple high-profile hits, and certainly the hit last week on Sedin would probably classify as one of those, but also the other day I was looking at some video, I saw about 20 hits you could call a blindside hit that aren't that egregious or not that physical. So it's just a little bit of a slippery slope there, but certainly there's still a continued effort on protecting players.

Video: Major talking points of GM meetings in Toronto

"I think we've done a great job over the last couple years of eliminating a lot of shots to the head. We're trending the right way."

The GMs went through a review of the new policy of using unaffiliated concussion spotters to monitor each game from the Player Safety Room in the New York office. They are trying to determine if goalies who have to relieve a goalie being pulled by the concussion spotter should be allowed time to warm up.

Most recently, New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist came in for Antti Raanta in the third period of a 2-2 game against the Canucks on Nov. 8. He did not get any warmup time and allowed two goals on six shots before Raanta returned. The Rangers lost 5-3.

Calgary Flames GM Brad Treliving said he thinks the topic will be brought up again in March, especially if there are more instances to look at than just the recent one with the Rangers.

"The notion that you need to have a warmup when you replace the goaltender, in most of the cases it doesn't happen anyway, but again it's something to keep an eye on," Commissioner Bettman said. "You don't make changes in the middle of the season anyway so we'll keep an eye on it, we'll see how many times it happens and whether or not it needs to be addressed."

The managers also discussed the legality of shootout goals, paying particularly close attention to the one scored by Florida Panthers center Vincent Trocheck on Oct. 18, a goal that led to a 4-3 win against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Trocheck lost control of the puck as he got in close, but the puck never stopped moving, he regained control of it and scored. The question is whether the puck kept moving forward, which is part of the rule.

"We all thought it shouldn't have been a goal," Chiarelli said. "Hindsight is 20/20, but we talked about it and I think we're straightened out on that one."

There appears to be a movement among the GMs to look at amending the shootout rules to the international hockey rules, which allow for the same shooter to continue taking attempts after the third round.

St. Louis Blues general manager Doug Armstrong brought up the idea as a way to make the shootout more exciting with the best shooters getting the opportunity for multiple attempts.

"I've got to admit, it's entertaining," Fletcher said. "We all remember [at the 2014 Sochi Olympics] with T.J. Oshie and I remember going back even further in the [2007] World Juniors, I think it was Peter Mueller versus Jonathan Toews. That was a lot of drama and they kept scoring. It was great. It's certainly something to consider. It's a good idea."

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