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GMs endorse Competition Committee proposals

by Dan Rosen / Edmonton Oilers

- The National Hockey League general managers voted in favor of recommendations made by the NHL Competition Committee during a meeting Wednesday.

The Competition Committee initially met to come up with the recommendations in a meeting June 4 in Toronto.

Chief among the recommendations are the mandatory use of visors for all players entering the NHL beginning in the 2013-14 season, and the use of hybrid icing in the 2013 preseason.

The NHL Board of Governors will vote on these recommendations when it meets June 27.

If the Board of Governors approves the mandatory use of visors, all players who have fewer than 26 games of NHL experience will be required to wear a visor beginning in the 2013-14 season. Players who have played in 26 games or more will be able to make their own decision on if they want to wear a visor.

If hybrid icing is approved by the Board of Governors, the players will then have a vote before the end of the 2013 preseason to decide if they like it. If the vote is in favor of it, hybrid icing will be implemented for the start of the 2013-14 season.

"The managers agree that they're in favor of adopting the hybrid icing," NHL Senior Vice President of Hockey Operations Colin Campbell said. "The players want to use it in exhibition and see if they're agreeable to it. If they are, it'll be game on. If they're not than we won't be using the hybrid icing."

NHLPA Special Assistant to the Executive Director Mathieu Schneider called hybrid icing, "an interesting experiment." He said the exact definition for hybrid icing and how it will be implemented in the preseason still are being worked on.

"I'm optimistic," he continued. "I've learned more through these meetings watching videos and getting a better understanding, but I think it's really going to give our players an opportunity of what it's like to play and to watch the hybrid. We'll see. If it makes the game safer, it's a great thing."

The NHL general managers are in favor of hybrid icing because it makes the game safer but doesn't detract from the excitement.

Hybrid icing is a mixture of touch and no-touch icing that gives the discretion to the linesman to blow his whistle and stop the play if he believes a defending player will reach the puck first or if he feels the race is a tie by the time the players reach the faceoff dots. If the linesman believes the attacking player has a chance to reach the puck first, he lets the race to the puck play out.

"I think once [the players] are used to it they'll like it because the race for the puck is still there," Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Dave Nonis said. "The concern about going to automatic icing is that the race for the puck is totally eliminated. In this situation the race for the puck is not eliminated at all. That's still an important part of the game."

Nonis said the key is getting the players comfortable with hybrid icing.

"I think once they are they will like it," he said. "I'm hopeful that the preseason is a long enough time for them to get used to it and see the benefits of it, but time will tell. It is a little bit different and you'll see a few wrinkles in preseason where players are unsure, but you need to work yourself through those."

Among the other recommendations the GMs voted in favor of are:

* All double-minor penalties for high-sticking will be subject to video review.

* The League will eliminate the attainable pass, which gave linesmen the discretion to wave off icing infractions on attempted passes that are deemed to be attainable. With the new standard, there must be contact with the stick.

* Beginning next season, the NHL would use nets that are 4 inches shallower. Nets will remain six feet wide by four feet tall, but they will be 40 inches in depth, down from 44 inches.
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