BOCA RATON, FLA. - The Detroit Red Wings and St. Louis Blues were not pleased that their division rival Nashville Predators have been given a break in the Alexander Radulov case.
NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly informed the general managers on Day 2 of their meetings in South Florida that the NHL and NHLPA have agreed not to subject Radulov to waivers if he decides to rejoin the Predators after a four-season hiatus. This clears the way for the 25-year-old Russian to return to Nashville for the remainder of the regular season and/or the playoffs.
The meeting did not turn contentious, but there was word that behind the scenes on Monday evening Red Wings general manager Ken Holland and his Blues counterpart Doug Armstrong were not pleased that the Predators had been given a break.
"This isn't anything against Nashville, not at all," Armstrong said. "It's the player. He gets to make all the decisions and gets to reap the benefits of whatever he decides to do.
"He gets his cake and eats it too. I understand Nashville's point of view but from Radulov's point of view, he wins on all fronts.
"It's probably something that might get closed off moving forward, but moving forward doesn't help this year.
"Fair or unfair, I guess you just have live with the ruling. As I said, Bill and Gary have difficult decisions to make. They felt that this is the acceptable way. He's a suspended player, they're going to lift the suspension and allow him to play. We have to just move forward and accept it."
Poile felt that the Predators deserved this ruling because Radulov never played out the final year of his entry-level contract.
"Nobody else has been through this as we have," Poile said. "The fact that he can come back, to me I always thought he could come back. I never thought for a second. It's our decision. He's a suspended player. People are saying he's over in Europe, you have to go through waivers. We went through that with the NHL and NHLPA to clear that. He's just a suspended player."
So when can the Predators expect Radulov's return?
"That's a good question," Poile said. "I've been down this road each of the last three or four years. The timing is a little bit different because [his KHL] team has been eliminated. All the hurdles have been cleared. The opportunity is there. The timing makes a lot of sense. It's up to him to make the decision to come over."
From the league's perspective, it felt Nashville deserved a break.
"He is a player under contract," Daly said. "He has contractual obligations to Nashville. It would be unfair to the club that has the benefit and right to those contractual obligations not to be able to bring him back.
"It's been black and white, for us. We've consistently take that position with every player who has gone AWOL on his contractual obligations."Shero on Crosby's return
Pittsburgh Penguins GM Ray Shero remarked the reason he didn't make any moves at the trade deadline because he met with his captain Sidney Crosby to discuss the possibility of his return before the playoffs and was confident No. 87 would be back.
Crosby and the Penguins announced on Tuesday that the Pittsburgh captain will return to action in New York against the Rangers on Thursday.
"Up to the trade deadline, we did scenarios with him in the lineup, with him out of the lineup and what the lines might look like," Shero said. "It's always in the back of your mind, maybe he might come back and if he does, how great that would be for our hockey team. We're potentially getting Kris Letang back at some point and adding two players like that is great for our team.
"[Crosby']s the captain of our team, so it is important for us."
Shero said Crosby will begin his second comeback after a three-month layoff playing on the third line with Tyler Kennedy and Matt Cooke. The Penguins' GM also stated they will closely watch Crosby this week and the weekend with three road games in four nights against the Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers and New Jersey Devils.
"The three in four days, we just have to get some feedback from him as we go along to as he is feeling," Shero said. "If there is any reason to pull back, then we will do that. If not, it's certainly full steam ahead."Ringette lines
The GMs decided not to put the centre line back in the game nor remove the trapezoid area from behind the goal, but they have an interest in putting in what has been referred to as the 'ringette' or 'Scotty Bowman' line.
This line would be painted on the ice across the top of the face-off circles in both ends. It would prohibit a team from making a pass across the centre line until the player crosses the ringette line in its own end.
The GMs believe this line would encourage more forechecking and cause the defencemen to display more skill in their own end. But before this rule finds its way into the NHL, the GMs would like the AHL to use the ringette line next season.
AHL president Dave Andrews doesn't believe there will be opposition from his league to try the ringette lines next season.
"If this group of NHL GMs think this is worth trying, than I don't have a problem with it and I don't think there will be a problem trying it," said Andrews, who attended the NHL GM meetings.
If the AHL adopts this rule change for next season, its board of governors would have to approve the matter. The next meeting for the AHL board of governors is on May 8Hybrid icing is on its way
The general managers also agreed they will switch from touch icing to the hybrid rule that is employed in the junior United States Hockey League.
The USHL has a hybrid rule that is a mixture of touch and no-touch icing. The linesman has the discretion to stop play if he believes the defensive player will reach the puck first.
If the linesman decides the offensive player has a chance to reach the puck first, he can allow for a race to the puck to continue. The linesman also can side with the defensive player if the race is a tie by the time the players reach the faceoff dots.
The language of this hybrid-icing rule still has to be written in a manner that appeases the GMs. But the plan is to present the rule change to the competition committee in June and then hope the board of governors adopt the rule change at its meeting during the week of the NHL entry draft.
"If someone really hammers it and it ends up on the opposite side of the net and I beat you to the puck on the other side, we want that to be a play on puck, not just that I beat you to the hash mark," Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke said. "If the goaltender comes out to play the puck, [the linesmen] are supposed to wave it off. They miss that sometimes because they're focused on the race. Not often, but sometimes.
"So, we have to work through some of the technical issues, but the overall impact of the rule should be positive."
This change was long overdue. The touch icing has caused plenty of injuries in a race for the puck. Most recently, Oilers lost defenceman Taylor Fedun when he busted his right femur in a race with then Minnesota Wild forward Eric Nystrom in a preseason game.
"I guess it takes a long time for anything to change. I'm just glad it happened now," Oilers GM Steve Tambellini said. "With the game opening up, the speed, decisions have to be made quicker. The speed of the race, things are just happening at a much high tempo than they were five, ten years ago." Attainable passes also to be wiped out
The NHL GMs exhibited an appetite to stop linesmen from making a judgment call on icings if they deem the stretch pass was attainable by a teammate. The GMs don't like the fact that this judgment call varies from linesman to linesman.
"I know our managers want to take the grey out of it and make it a touch pass," NHL senior director of hockey operations Colin Campbell said. "If it doesn't touch, then it's icing. So take the gray out of the 'attainable pass.' We've had some issues in games -- what's attainable, what's not."
The competition committee also must agree to this rule change and passed by the competition committee and the NHL Board of Governors.
Odds and ends
The GMs want the officials to be more diligent in watching line changes. They want linesman to enforce that a player can't hop over the boards on a line change until the player coming off is five feet from the bench ... The GMs did not adopt any rule changes with hand passes in the defensive zone, but they instead want to discuss it further ... On the final day of the meetings, the GMs will be given a collective bargaining update (the current CBA expires on Sept. 15) and a discussion will take place on the salary cap ceiling for next season, which will between $68-million US and $69-million. This, of course, will be an artificial salary cap number because of the uncertainty of what the next CBA will entail.
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