NAPLES, Florida -- The general managers of the 30 National Hockey League teams, at their annual March meeting, approved further exploration of three on-ice procedures that could be implemented for play next season. The NHL Hockey Operations Department will refine definitions of the "hurry-up faceoff," the "tag-up" offside rule and the standard of enforcement regarding obstruction, then will present rules changes for consideration by the General Managers and the Board of Governors at separate meetings in June.
The "hurry-up faceoff" procedure was used at the Olympics and received widespread support from the General Managers - in a form that would be more applicable to NHL play. International rules, under which the Olympics were conducted, also allow "tag-up" off-sides, which allows an "off-side" team to leave the attacking zone and render itself "on-side" without a stoppage of play.
"We looked at a whole host of ways of moving the game along as quickly as we can," Commissioner Gary Bettman said. "There are three things that we came out of the meeting wanting to pursue: One is hurry-up line changes/faceoffs, one is not allowing a defending player to use his stick or his free hand in the neutral zone to obstruct an offensive player who is not carrying the puck, and the other was a modified 'tag-up' rule. We want to pursue implementation of all three elements, but to do that we have to make sure we define them in a way that works."