With the recent eye injuries to Chris Pronger, Manny Maholtra and Marc Staal, the NHLPA will revisit the issue of mandatory visors with its players this summer.
TORONTO -- Hybrid icing? Maybe.
Coach's challenge? Not yet.
Will there be punishment for those hockey thespians? They're looking into it.
Is it time to finally get serious about streamlining goalie equipment? They say they will. But we've heard that promise before?
Toss in the possibility of visors becoming mandatory and there is your thumbnail summary of the annual NHL general managers' March assembly, which was shortened from two days to one and moved from sunny Florida to still wintery Toronto this year.
The GMs have recommended that hybrid ice be adopted. However, the NHLPA was cool to do the idea, saying the players were more comfortable with status quo. But that discussion will go to the competition committee in June, in which the players have a say before formal recommendations are made for approval from the league board of governors.
The coach's challenge fell by the wayside because of the concern there was fear how much it would slow the game down and there simply are too many dynamics to consider.
"They would challenge the opening face-off," NHL senior vice president Colin Campbell said, jokingly.
As a compromise, the NHL hockey operations department has proposed that the Toronto war room could review four-minute high-sticking penalties to make sure a player wasn't cut by a teammate's stick or by the puck. There could be other reviewable possibilities added down the road.
Campbell also promised that his hockey operations department will kick around ideas to curb the penchant of some players to embellish.
It also seems like the league will finally get serious about reducing the size of goalie equipment.
"We haven't avoided the issue, but we've put it off for long enough," San Jose Sharks GM Doug Wilson said. "A signal should go off when a piece of equipment is called a cheater [the wide protection goalies wear on the top of their catching glove]. Some of the equipment makes saves, not the athlete."
Campbell added, "it's something we want get to right away. But it's not a simple fix like taking two inches off the top of the pads. It's not that easy."
The NHLPA always has left it up to the players to decide whether they want to make visors mandatory, and that will discussed further this summer.
The NHLPA last polled its players in 2009. They overwhelming voted to have a choice of whether or not to wear a visor. But now with approximately 73 per cent wearing a half-face shield, and recent eye injuries to Chris Pronger, Manny Maholtra and Marc Staal, the NHLPA will revisit the issue with its players this summer.
Mathieu Schneider, special assistant to NHLPA executive director Don Fehr, attended part of the GM meetings with NHLPA advisor Rob Zamuner on Wednesday. Schneider hinted there was a possibility that entry-level NHL players in the future will be forced to wear a visor.
Schneider admitted he was a bit of hypocrite because he never wore a shield during his 20-year NHL career. But with players now having to wear visors in junior, college and the AHL, why take it off in the NHL?
Also, with shot blocking so important and the ability of most goaltenders to cover the bottom the net, defencemen have been shooting the puck high, which has made for dangerous times in front of the net.
The NHL and the players have yet to agree on their participation in the 2014 Sochi Olympics, but the feeling is that day is around the corner.
Canadian men's Olympic team executive director Steve Yzerman will meet with his management team: St. Louis Blues GM Doug Armstrong, Edmonton Oilers president of hockey operations Kevin Lowe, Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland and Hockey Canada official Brad Pascall on Thursday to continue discussions on roster possibilities. Hockey Canada has tentative plans to host a four-day training camp in Calgary in late August.
There was discussion about recent shootout attempts from Ottawa Senators rookie Kaspars Daugevins, in which he put the toe of his blade on top of the puck and attempted a spin move that Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask stopped. There also was a spin move from Vancouver Canucks Mason Raymond that raised eyebrows.
The league doesn't want to strip the fans of entertainment, but it is concerned that with these sort of moves there sometimes is interference or contact the players make with goalies.
The referees will be asked to focus on possible contact between shooter and the goalie with these questionable shootout moves.
The league has concern about the stall tactics some teams have employed in its own end after icings, when a player intentionally gets tossed from the face-off to give his teammates extra time to rest up.
The 12-member NHL/NHLPA competition committee needs a facelift. St. Louis forward David Backes is the only holdover from the players' side.
Schneider has talked to several interested players and they will have a new group in place by the next meeting that will be scheduled during the Stanley Cup final.
Schneider and Campbell are non-voting members of the committee. The league side has Philadelphia Flyers owner Ed Snider, Yzerman, Dallas Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk, Nashville Predators GM David Poile and Carolina Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford.
Tim WharnsbyTim's worked the sports beat at The Globe and Mail and the Toronto Sun, specializing in Canada's one true sporting obsession - hockey. He knows the players, the coaches, the backroom boys and most importantly, the fans. That's what he brings to his stories. Knowledge, fairness and understanding are trademarks of a Wharnsby story. That's what you will get here as he writes for CBCSports.ca.
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