NHL general managers meeting: Discussion to include bullying, fighting, overtime

Bruce Bennett

The NHL's general managers will have plenty of topics to discuss at the meeting in Toronto on Tuesday.

The docket for the NHL's general managers meeting on Tuesday will be lengthy, according to reports. The league's managers will gather in Toronto to discuss a varying degree of topics that broach issues ranging from social to functional.

Some current events will lead the talks, as reverberations are still being felt in the wake of Ray Emery's decision to engage Braden Holtby in a fight that Holtby wanted no part of. Gary Lawless of the Winnipeg Free Press indicated  the managers will discuss a rule implementation that would suspend a goaltender 10 games for crossing the red line to fight. Commissioner Gary Bettman reportedly had an anecdotal discussion with Emery about this potential measure.

In addition, the league will draw influence from the NFL as the managers are expected to discuss bullying. It's not believed the NHL has any problems with bullying at this time, but it seems the league wants to make sure it stays that way.

Other topics expected to be discussed include expanded video replay, extended overtime periods, hybrid icing, protective equipment and the teams' ability to mandate what equipment players wear.

According to Darren Dreger of TSN, managers will discuss the potential of 10-minute overtime periods. As it currently stands, NHL overtime lasts five minutes before a shootout is used to determine a winner. Many take issue with this because of the novelty of the shootout and the limited amount of time in the extra period. Detroit Red Wings manager Ken Holland is a proponent of extended overtime and has proposed that the league use a 3-on-3 formatting before the shootout. This method was tested at the Red Wings' prospects tournament in Traverse City this offseason and received favorable reviews.

Hybrid icing has been an issue because grey area still exists regarding when the whistle is supposed to be blown. Some believe officials are not blowing the play dead at the right time and that tracking the race is adding too much to an already full plate.

The protective equipment debate likely revolves around shot blockers, because several foot injuries have occurred and teams would like players to wear the blockers. The players, however, believe the shot blockers are bulky and interfere with their speed. The Calgary Flames have reportedly strongly suggested (forced) all their players wear them in practice. The NHLPA took issue with this and the managers will likely discuss it further on Wednesday.

In addition, John Shannon of Sportsnet reports some managers are hoping to propose an adjustment to the playoff formatting so that division rivalries are promoted more prominently. This is merely speculation, but it wouldn't be surprising to learn that this is coming from Western Conference managers. The travel and time zone conflicts could cause issues in regards to matchups against wild card teams from opposing divisions.

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