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GM Meetings

General managers look to NHL's future

Spend first day of meetings discussing potential changes, including standings, increased offense

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / Senior Writer

BOCA RATON, Fla. -- The NHL general managers spent the first of their three days of meetings talking about the future of the game.

The GMs broke into four groups and were tasked by the League to talk about ideas and concepts that are on their mind, and potential changes they might want to see in the future to start a conversation. Each group was moderated by League executives.

"It's almost like a think tank," New Jersey Devils general manager Ray Shero said.

They were told that no idea would be too radical. The objective was to get participation from all 31 managers here, including Vegas Golden Knights GM George McPhee, and gauge reaction to the ideas so the League could put context to some and bring them back in the big group meeting Tuesday for further discussion.

Video: Breaking down GM meeting discussions on NHL Now

Some ideas were related strictly to on-ice play, including looking at ways to take away elements of defense in order to fuel more offense. Some were related to the standings, such as how many points should be awarded for a win or should there be a point awarded for losing in overtime or the shootout.

Other concepts included how it would change the game to have one faceoff circle in each end directly in front of the net instead of two near the boards, the potential to limit dump-ins, increasing the size of the nets, which has been a topic in the past, and adding a wild card play-in game to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"We like the game but how do we improve it and where is it going, and long term," Buffalo Sabres GM Tim Murray said. "That was the discussion and I'm sure all four rooms discussed different things. We didn't make any decisions but we brought up a lot of things and some were completely off the wall and some were things that you think you would be looking at in four or five years. It was just a barnstorming thing about where the game is going."

Some of the more interesting ideas discussed publicly by the GMs following the meeting appeared to come out of the group that featured Shero, Brad Treliving (Calgary Flames), Jim Rutherford (Pittsburgh Penguins), Ken Holland (Detroit Red Wings), Kevin Cheveldayoff (Winnipeg Jets), Stan Bowman (Chicago Blackhawks), Ron Hextall (Philadelphia Flyers) and Joe Sakic (Colorado Avalanche).

"One of the concepts that we talked about is how we spent a lot of time over the years over how to create more offense, but should we go about [it] differently?" Treliving said. "Should we look at ways to legislate defense?"

Treliving said in particular they talked about congestion in front of the net and shot blocking.

Video: Brad Treliving on NHL Now to discuss ideas

"You need an act of God to get a puck through from the point into where a goalie has to make a save," Treliving said. "That's something that perhaps can be addressed."

Treliving said they even discussed enlarging the size of the zone.

"We always talk about creating rules to create offense, create offense, and then we give it to our coaches and 10 minutes later they've figured out a way to kill that idea," Treliving said. "But what if we find a way to limit defense. Instead of giving them tools for the toolbox, take a few out. We spent a lot of time on that."

The GMs brought up concepts that initially were suggested years ago that haven't come to fruition, such as Bob Gainey's idea of making it illegal for players to block a shot while falling down or sliding on the ice.

Gainey first made that suggestion at the GM meetings in 2008 when he was with the Montreal Canadiens.

"At the time, people are like, really?" Treliving said. "Now you look back at it, it had some merit."

While changing the points system for the standings was discussed, many GMs said it's difficult to gauge the effect it would have if the League began awarding three points for a regulation win, two for a win in overtime or the shootout and one for losing in overtime or the shootout.

Video: Lou Lamoriello talks GM meetings on NHL Now

Shero said they could put together a standings model as if the 3-2-1 system was in place for this season and previous seasons, but it wouldn't take into account how teams already have played late in games with the current system.

The thinking is that if a team is guaranteed an extra point to win in regulation it might play differently than it does now, when it is awarded two points for a win of any kind.

"So I don't think you can say where we are today is reflective of where we'd be if we instituted the [3-2-1 system]," Shero said.

"You're playing by these rules now."

The GMs will discuss some of these ideas and others in further detail Tuesday, when they are also expected to talk about potential immediate changes to the offside rule, the length of video review and the extended breaks in the schedule, commonly referred to as bye weeks, which were implemented this season to give the players more time off between Jan. 1-March 2.

"It's just healthy for us to just talk about the game, where it's going and where it's at," New York Rangers GM Jeff Gorton said. "We're all in agreement that the League is in great shape. It's a fast game. Young players have really helped the game. I think it's just a healthy thing to look forward."

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