Just because this year’s annual NHL general managers meetings were shortened to one day in Toronto from the usual three-day frolic in the Florida sun thanks to the lockout does not mean there will be no recommendations for rule changes passed along to the league’s competition committee.
“I don’t think you should look at this as not much coming from it,” Carolina Hurricanes president and general manager Jim Rutherford said of Wednesday’s meeting in Toronto. “Lots of times we do these meetings in two or three days but we’ll still put in as many hours on Wednesday as we always do.”
Based on conversations with Rutherford and other NHL GMs, it appears the most likely items on the agenda with a chance of being sent for approval this summer by the competition committee and then the NHL governors are increased use of video replay in on-ice officials’ decisions, perhaps with an NFL-style coach’s challenge, and the hybrid icing rule.
No NHL general manager will come out and say it publicly but most of them believe the referees are not able to call today’s version of the game accurately. This is not a condemnation of the abilities of the on-ice officials but a belief the game is now simply too fast for a human to make the right call every time.
Rutherford and Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland will say the concern about adding more video review (only goals can be checked currently) is slowing down the game. Giving each coach one opportunity to subject a call to video review, which was suggested by Dale Tallon of the Florida Panthers and voted down in 2010, appears to be the most popular choice.
The hybrid icing rule is designed to prevent the serious injuries that result from collisions in chasing the puck when it’s fired down the ice. If the defenceman had the lead when the puck reached the hash marks on the faceoff circles then the linesmen stop the play. If the forward is leading the play continues.
Also up for discussion will be the new collective agreement and instructions from league staff on how the general managers should use it, safety issues like visors and protective socks, although rules concerning them must be approved through the collective agreement with the players, and the usual proposals for longer regular-season overtime.