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Goalie fights to be discussed at general managers meetings

Goalie fights will be one of the topics discussed at Tuesday's NHL general managers meetings.

Jeff Griffith-US PRESSWIRE

When the NHL's 30 general managers meet on Tuesday for their fall meeting in Toronto, Ray Emery's recent pummeling of Washington Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby is expected to be one of the topics up for discussion.

Specifically, it will be the so-called Ray Emery rule that is the likely talking point.

Almost immediately after Emery raced the length of the ice to fight an unwilling combatant in a 7-0 blowout loss earlier this month, the possibility of severe punishments for goalies who leave their area to fight was brought up. Gary Lawless of the Winnipeg Free Press initially reported that the league would consider implementing an automatic 10-game suspension for goalies who leave their zone, similar to the punishment players get for leaving the bench to join an altercation.

Emery was not suspended or punished (outside of the penalty minutes and game misconduct) for his fight with Holtby, something that did not seem to sit well with many people around the league.

I believe a player should get a game misconduct for fighting -Lightning GM Steve Yzerman

That included commissioner Gary Bettman and league disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan. When asked about it, Shanahan said that he "hated" what Emery did.

"I don't like it," Shanahan told Sportsnet's Hockey Central last week. "I wouldn't like it if I was a teammate of his. I wouldn't like it if I was an opponent of his. And I think, more important, if the rest of the caretakers of our game, the general managers, don't like it, it's important for us to say when a rule is not properly addressed in the rule book. And I don't think it is."

Bettman met with the media on Monday prior to the Hockey Hall of Fame inductions and discussed his recent encounter with Emery.

"I said, 'Oh, Ray. It's good to see you. I've been thinking about you,'" Bettman said, via the Associated Press. "We had a nice chat, and I said, 'So just hypothetically, if there was a rule that said if you cross the red line to get into a fight with the other goaltender and you get a 10-game suspension, would you have done it?' He goes, 'What? Are you crazy?'"

Along with goalie fights, fighting in general seems like it will be something up for debate once again.

Following the George Parros incident on the first night of the season (Parros had to leave on a stretcher following a fight with Toronto Maple Leafs enforcer Colton Orr) several general managers -- Tampa Bay's Steve Yzerman, Carolina's Jim Rutherford and Pittsburgh's Ray Shero -- talked about how the league needs to take another look at fighting and find out what type of game it wants to be, especially as the league takes action to cut down on head shots.

"Yes, I believe a player should get a game misconduct for fighting," Yzerman said to TSN's Darren Dreger back in October. "We penalize and suspend players for making contact with the head while checking, in an effort to reduce head injuries, yet we still allow fighting. We're stuck in the middle and need to decide what kind of sport do we want to be. Either anything goes and we accept the consequences, or take the next step and eliminate fighting."

Nothing official will come out of Tuesday's meetings, but it will be an opportunity for the general managers to propose and discuss possible rule changes for the future.

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