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GMs back Competition Committee recommendations

by Dan Rosen

NEW YORK -- The NHL's general managers held their annual meeting during the Stanley Cup Final on Wednesday and granted their support to the recommendations made by the League's Competition Committee earlier this week, which include changes to the rules for overtime, faceoffs after icings, the configuration of the faceoff circles, increasing the size of the trapezoid behind the net and more stringent measures for embellishment offenses.

The recommendations still have to be approved by the NHL Board of Governors and the NHL Players Association Executive Board before becoming official. The Board of Governors meets in New York on June 26. The Executive Board meets July 16-19 in Pebble Beach, Calif.

The GMs first discussed these changes at their annual meetings in March.

Colin Campbell, the NHL's Senior Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations, stressed that embellishment is a problem in the League that needs to be corrected.

He said the recommendation from the GMs will be to change the wording of the current rule regarding embellishment to allow for warnings and an escalating scale of fines to be imposed for repeat offenders rather than suspensions, which are currently allowed under Rule 64.3 but rarely imposed by the League.

Campbell also said that a fine could be imposed on the coach or the organization of a player who is repeatedly penalized for embellishment.

"It's not about taking a player out of the game; it's about making everybody aware that this player does embellish," Campbell said. "More than that it's about the players who don't embellish that ask the question, 'Should I start embellishing now because I'm on an uneven playing field here, they're getting calls because they embellish?' "

In addition, Campbell said embellishment plays would be reviewed in the Situation Room in Toronto for supplemental discipline. A player would be subject to a warning or fines for embellishment regardless of whether he was issued a minor penalty on the ice.

"It got a lot of traction, a lot of support from the managers that embellishment is going too far in our League and we have to attack it again," Campbell said.

For overtime, the recommendation is to have the teams switch ends at the start of the five-minute extra session and for the ice crew to do a dry scrape after regulation rather than before the shootout.

Currently, the hash marks outside the faceoff circle are separated by 3 1/2 feet, but the recommendation is to widen the distance to five feet to create more space for players to make plays off of faceoffs.

There will also be a recommendation that only one player is eligible to take a faceoff after an icing, and that a second faceoff violation by that player would result in a two-minute bench minor penalty for delay of game (Rule 76.6). Currently, a player is removed from the faceoff after one violation and replaced by another player.

The length of the trapezoid along the goal line, which is currently 18 feet, would increase to 22 feet in the recommendation tabled by the GMs. The goal is to give the goalie more room to play the puck.

In addition to the aforementioned recommendations, the general managers believe they are moving closer to adopting a coach's challenge, an idea first brought forward by Dale Tallon, GM of the Florida Panthers, in November 2010. The managers are still ironing out the language to determine what would be eligible to be reviewed through a coach's challenge, but Ottawa Senators GM Bryan Murray said he felt they have never been closer to agreeing to implement the proposal than they are now.

"It's the first time I've felt that eventually, whether it be this year or next year, that something in that area will happen," Murray said.

Among the plays being considered as reviewable under a coach's challenge are pucks off the netting that result in goals, pucks shot over the glass that result in a penalty for delay of game, and offside plays.

"There are a lot of questions with offside," Campbell said. "When it enters the blue line illegally, should it stay illegal until the puck exits the blue line? Should there be a time limit? Should there be a change of possession? That's all if a goal is scored and we had to go to review for offside. We have to ask those questions."

The managers remain split on implementing video replay on goals scored from potential goaltender interference plays. The concern is the unintended consequences that could result from adding a video replay option to what is already a judgment call.

"If you're going to use video replay there has to be certainty, 99.9-percent certainty," Phoenix Coyotes GM Don Maloney said. "But when you get into goalie interference you might feel one thing, maybe the goalie gets bumped, and I might feel a different thing, maybe the forward is pushed into the crease. If you're going to promise fans you're going to get it right you can't have an ambiguous situation.

"But I also say this: It is something that continues to be discussed and as technology expands and as you get more HD cameras in buildings, there's perhaps a time in the future that I can see video replay expanding to goaltender interference. But right now to me it's too gray, too ambiguous."


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