GMs Discuss Blindside Hits, Shootouts, Concussion Protocol

USATSI_9656938_154158418_lowresThe NHL’s general managers met in Toronto on Tuesday to lay the groundwork for discussing a few important issues. While the meeting was a long way off from the annual Boca Raton meetings in March, Tuesday’s discussion did provide insight into what could be on the docket.

There are no rule changes on the table as of this moment, but the GMs were eyeballing such matters as blindside hitting, the shootout and a concussion spotter program.

Blindside hitting is on the table in large part due to Nazem Kadri’s hit on Daniel Sedin, which took place on November 5 and didn’t make the grade for any supplemental discipline due to the main point of contact not being the head.

Currently, blindside hits are legal unless the main point of contact is the head.

At this point and time, the general managers are pretty split on blindside hits. There is a fear of removing too much physicality from the game.

“That falls into the blindside hit but legal hit [category],” Edmonton Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli said. “I’m a proponent of hitting. I want to keep that physicality in the game. [Kadri] is a scrappy player, and for me that hit is on the borderline and you have to keep looking at hits like that.”

The shootout is getting a look as well, with Vincent Trocheck’s October 18 shootout goal providing an example of something worth discussing. On that play, Trocheck lost control of the puck as he neared the crease but the puck didn’t stop moving and he regained control and scored. The rule as of now is that the puck must keep going forward, but puck control is an issue.

Also on the docket for the shootout is the question of allowing the same shooter to take another attempt after the third round. This is akin to international rules as some general managers argue that it could make things more exciting.

The league’s new policy of using unaffiliated concussion spotters in the New York Player Safety Room was also reviewed, with determinations yet to be made on whether goalies should be able to receive some warm-up time if they’re put into the game after the starter receives a concussion.

“The notion that you need to have a warmup when you replace the goaltender, in most of the cases it doesn’t happen anyway, but again it’s something to keep an eye on,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said. “You don’t make changes in the middle of the season anyway so we’ll keep an eye on it, we’ll see how many times it happens and whether or not it needs to be addressed.”

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