The NHL’s general managers discussed a number of topics at their annual fall meeting Tuesday, from concussions and protecting the goaltender to realignment and how to monitor strategy, such as the Flyers’ action against the 1-3-1.
If you haven’t been able to keep track of all the action, don’t worry, we’ve done the legwork for you:
— First up is the reaction to the hit by Boston’s Milan Lucic on Buffalo goaltender Ryan Miller. Lucic was not punished on the play and there is concern that the lack of discipline sets a precedent that would allow for “open season” of punishing open-ice hits on the league’s netminders.
While there is concern, outspoken Toronto GM Brian Burke insisted that he does not believe the intent to injure goaltenders is an “epidemic.”
From the Toronto Star:
“I think some people in the room felt it (was worth a suspension), and some felt it was the right call,” Shanahan said. “Certainly, we have a heightened sensitivity to goalie safety.”
Leafs GM Brian Burke said the sentiment was that the incident was an isolated affair.
“We talked about whether there should be a heightened standard, a heightened awareness,” Burke said.
“This is not a rampant issue. This is not an epidemic. We had an incident two or three nights ago that was more of a stand-alone incident. We’ll have a heightened awareness and see where it goes.
“We need players to drive the net,” Burke added. “When James Reimer got hurt, we didn’t feel it was worth a suspension and I still feel that way. I don’t think it was an accident, but we want players to crowd the net and James was outside the paint when he got bumped.”
— The Flyers sparked debate over their stalling tactics against the Tampa Bay Lightning’s 1-3-1 system. The GMs discussed if there is anything that could be done to prohibit such a stalemate, or if it is possible to create a rule that could prohibit teams from devising a particular strategy — whether it’s using a defensive posture like the Lightning do or opting to force an opponent out of its comfort zone as Philadelphia did.
While the plan is to monitor such situations moving forward, many seemed to think this was a one-time occurrance.
The crux of the issue is whether or not anything needs to be done at this point, and what could be done. There is also the matter of determining fault. Should a team be allowed to sit back in a defensive formation like Tampa Bay did? Should a team be allowed to not attack with the puck? Or both? Those are all questions that must be answered. ....
“I don’t think Philadelphia was trying to prove a point or embarrass anybody,” Washington GM George McPhee said. “I think Philly was trying to get Tampa forecheckers to come toward them so they could open things up. That’s what one coach wanted to do and the other coach refused to do it. We had a stalemate.
“We don’t want to see that very often, so we’ll keep an eye on it and see what happens in the future. … I think the general consensus was that teams can play whatever way they need to play to win. We’ll just monitor things and see if it is an issue in the future. For now though, there is nothing to be done.”
— The GMs received an update on realignment plans, but according to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun, they weren’t given a chance to ask questions about the matter. It’s a discussion that’s expected to be resolved in early December, when the Board of Governors meets in Pebble Beach, Calif.
The NHL’s board of governors will vote on realignment Dec. 5-6 in Pebble Beach, Calif. The Detroit Red Wings are chief among the clubs that are hoping for a change to their respective situation.
“We’d like to go East or we’d like to play more games against Eastern teams. Nothing’s changed from that point of view,” Holland said.
Ideally, the Wings would like to move to the Eastern Conference, but the club has also indicated to the league it could also live with having the NHL schedule matrix revamped so each team plays every other team in the league at least in a home-and-home. That would guarantee more games in the East for Detroit and less in the West to minimize some of the travel.
Western Conference clubs aren’t too keen to see the Wings move to the East.
“Of course, we would love to stay with Detroit and I know they want to go to the East because travel is a lot harder in the West,” said Chicago Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman. “We like playing the Red Wings. I don’t know where it’s going to end up and I don’t know if there’s a right answer.”
— Other items of note included news from Brendan Shanahan, the NHL’s director of player safety, that the rate of concussions had fallen 50-60 percent.
They also discussed hybrid icing rules that would prevent any number of severe injuries that result from the chase plays on some icing calls and they were shown prototypes of softer shoulder pads.
From Yahoo Sports:
Concussions are down 50-60 percent from where they were at this point last season. Cautioning that it was early, Shanahan called that a “significant improvement” and an indication that players were changing their behavior with new rules and a new approach to enforcement.
Shanahan said he sought clarification from the GMs on other types of collisions so they could clarify how they want them addressed.
“I tried to take the general managers through sort of the process of a suspension -- what gets applied, how it gets applied, when it gets applied,” Shanahan said. “This isn’t the time of year for significant rule changes or policy changes. I think it was more of a discussion on the sensitivities of the job that I do and certainly the recognition that it’s not black and white. It’s gray.”