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Realignment discussions to continue next month

by Dan Rosen

TORONTO -- While realignment is a major topic in the NHL, the general managers heard only a report on the subject Tuesday from NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly. There was no further discussion on realignment because it a Board of Governors matter.
The Board of Governors is expected to see scenarios and vote on realignment at their meeting Dec. 5-6 in Pebble Beach, Calif.
Realignment is necessary because Winnipeg has been promised that it will not play in the Eastern Conference beyond this season. As a result, other teams, most notably the Columbus Blue Jackets and Detroit Red Wings, have expressed an interest in moving to the Eastern Conference.
"It's very much up in the air still. I don't think there is a clear solution yet," Columbus GM Scott Howson said. "There are a lot of ideas, and there is no perfect solution to this. You've got too many teams that aren't pleased with where they are and what their lot in the League is and they'd like to see some movement. We're just one of those teams and we'll continue to really put our heads together to try to come up with an idea that continues to work with everybody."


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Concussions are down: It appears the illegal check to the head rule is working because the NHL announced Tuesday that concussions are down between 50-60 percent from the same time last season.
"Concussions are dramatically down. It has been working," NHL Senior Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations Colin Campbell said. "That was our intention, to reduce concussions."
Brendan Shanahan, the League's Senior Vice President of Player Safety and Hockey Operations, was quick to note that it is still early in the season. But, he also wanted to credit the players for the reduction in concussions.
"We'd love to get rid of all but we know that we're not going to be able to get rid of all concussions," he said. "I take each and every one of them personally now, but the numbers and strides that the players have made and the efforts they have made so far have been really commendable."
Hybrid icing a possibility: Campbell said that the managers are interested in pursuing a vote on bringing hybrid icing to the NHL.
"We'll probably vote on that in March and we have to run it by the Competition Committee in the spring," Campbell said. "We saw how they use it in the USHL. There is a very strong sense to look at it hard."
Hybrid icing has been tested at the NHL Research, Development and Orientation Camp the past two summers. Hybrid icing is a mixture between touch and no-touch icing and gives the linesman the discretion to call icing or wave it off.
Once the first player reaches the faceoff dot, the linesman will have to determine which player would reach the puck first. If it is determined to be the attacking player, the icing is waved off. If it is the defending player, icing is blown immediately. If the race to the puck produces a tie, the linesman would have to blow his whistle to call icing.
Thin mesh and in-net cameras: Campbell also announced that the League will immediately start implementing the thinner mesh at the top of the nets and the new in-net cameras into all arenas. This is strictly for Hockey Operations to help on goal reviews.
The thinner mesh helps in the optics and the new cameras will be placed in a location that will allow for a better view of the goal line.
"We've already got the go ahead," Campbell said. "It becomes two pieces of mesh now, not one, and we had to make sure it was strong enough. Now it's a matter of installing the mesh and the cameras in probably the next two or two and a half months."
However, the verification line, which was supposed to help in goal reviews to determine if the puck completely crossed the line, remains a work-in-progress.
"The verification line is still something we're working on because we want to make sure it's a 100 percent workable and it's not 100 percent," Campbell said. "There are some issues with it. That line lies within the ice one inch so there are some optical illusions to it. We're trying to fix something; we don't want to break something."
Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter: @drosennhl
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