Monday marked the first of a three-day meeting for the NHL’s general managers in Boca Raton, Florida, and no issue in hockey is more prominent at those discussions than player safety and what can be done to minimize the number of concussions.
After the first day of meeting, Commissioner Gary Bettman announced a five-point plan aimed toward improving player safety:
--Once athletic trainers and team doctors are familiarized with the plan, the league will implement a revised concussion protocol in which there will be mandatory removal from games if a player is injured and reports or shows signs of symptoms that include a loss of consciousness; balance problems; slowness to get up after a hit to the head; and disorientation. The player will be examined by the team physician in a quiet place using a standardized assessment tool.
--Brendan Shanahan will work with the NHLPA to determine if there can be a reduction in equipment size in an effort to minimize harm to others who come into contact with the equipment without diminishing the ability to protect a player.
--Next season, Bettman wants to be able to impose supplemental discipline against teams to hold individual clubs responsible for the actions of players who are considered repeat offenders.
--The six teams that currently use a seamless glass around their rinks will switch to the more forgiving Plexiglas and the league will hire a safety engineer to evaluate individual rinks.
--Leading the ongoing efforts to make these changes will be a four-person group consisting of Shanahan, Steve Yzerman, Rob Blake and Joe Nieuwendyk.
You can check out the full transcript of Bettman’s comments here and more from the first day of the general managers’ meeting in the links below:
--Now that Bettman’s plan is out there, how far will the general managers go after learning that 44 percent of the concussions suffered in the NHL are the result of legal hits? [Scott Burnside]
--Mario Lemieux spoke out about the league’s supplemental discipline policy weeks ago and he also sent a letter voicing his concern and suggesting changes to the NHL.
--In other concussion news, Sidney Crosby skated on Monday and said his symptoms are decreasing. [Pittsburgh Tribune Review]
--In his latest On Hockey column, Tarik El-Bashir writes that it is time for the Capitals to commit to goaltender Michal Neuvirth.
--The Capitals hit the road again for their longest stretch of games away from Verizon Center, which will host the NCAA Tournament and circus while they’re gone.
--The individual ups and downs from the week that was from Japers’ Rink.