GM Meetings: Coach’s Challenge, Goalie Equipment, Hybrid Icing, and Visors

Posted: March 21, 2013 by Lamar Lester in News
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On Wednesday afternoon the hot topic around the NHL was player safety. The Leagues’ 30 general managers met in Toronto for their annual discussion on the current state of affairs in the NHL. As always they go into these meeting with an agenda, and yesterday’s topics were nothing new. They mostly talked about coach’s challenges, goalie equipment, hybrid icing, and visors.

Coach’s Challenge

We talked about coach’s challenges twice last month in the heat of Matt Duchene’s crazy offsides goal. At that time, many of hockey’s top insiders were convinced a coach’s challenge rule would be a huge topic of discussion at this meeting. That wasn’t the case as this idea was pretty much open and shut from the beginning. Most GM’s think its use would be too complicated and would slow down the game thus, according to Dan Rosen, it didn’t gain much traction.

However, they did briefly mention interest in allowing video reviews in cases of 4-minute high-sticking calls. That seemingly to make sure guys aren’t hitting themselves and embellishing for calls or mistakenly catching teammates with high-sticks and the opposing team getting penalized for it.

Goalie Equipment

The concern with a lot of people in the hockey world is that goalie’s equipment is too large and it hinders goals scoring. So the idea is to shrink goalie equipment. The current NHL regulations allow for a goaltender’s leg pads to cover 55% of the area between the goalie’s knee and pelvis. Some NHL goalies have recently given their differing opinions on goalie equipment.

New Jersey Devils veteran goalie, Johan Hedberg understands the concern: “You look at some guys and I understand why people are complaining (about size of goalie equipment).”

Winnipeg Jets goaltenter, Ondrej Pavelec is against the proposal to shrink goalie equipment: “If you take something away from the goalies, you have to take something away from the players too. Ok, so we’re going to get small gear, we (should) give players wood sticks. There’s nothing I can do but I don’t like it, that’s for sure.”

Toronto Maple Leafs rookie goaltender, Ben Scrivens: “GMs are a lot smarter than I am. I think they’re going to come up with a decision.”

San Jose Sharks GM Doug Wilson, who has been a huge proponent of changing goalie equipment: “It was a really healthy discussion. We think it impacts the way the game is played. I think there’s going to be some progress. It’s something we’ve put off long enough.”

From ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun:

“Obviously they want more goals, but I feel like, as goaltenders, we’re getting better as a position,” Toronto Maple Leafs goalie James Reimer said Wednesday morning at Air Canada Centre. “You look around the league, there are more and more good goalies. When that happens, I guess they feel the need for more scoring and what do you do? You take away the advantages of the goalie?

As goalies, we’ve already grown accustomed to the changes they’ve thrown at us [since 2005]. We’ve risen above it and gotten better and I hope it stops soon.”

So obviously we have the argument to shrink goalie equipment, but not everyone who wants to change how goals are scored want to specifically alter the goalie’s personal effects. Some would like to see the nets themselves enlarged to produce more goals.

From ESPN’s Craig Custance:

“My general manager used to be a goalie, have you seen the size of him? No really. Have you seen the size of the goalies?” Red Wings coach Mike Babcock asked when posed the question as to whether or not it was time to shrink goalie equipment again.

If the goalies [are] getting bigger then the net is getting smaller. By refusing to change you are changing. Purists would say you can’t do it because you’re changing the game but by not changing you are changing the game.”

Hybrid Icing

Hybrid icing was brought up as a safety measure for players. More specifically, defensemen chasing down pucks near the boards. With hybrid icing, the play will end generally when one player is closest to the puck from the faceoff dot. Though this rule is used to protect the players, they seem to be the ones most against it.

At the meeting GM’s voted to use hybrid icing next season, but before it can be official the NHLPA’s Competition Committee must agree to it as well and that’s not likely to happen. It should be noted that SportsNet’s John Shannon reported yesterday that when the GM’s took the vote, hybrid icing passed – 20 Yes to 10 No.

The players aren’t against modified icing altogether; they just don’t like hybrid icing. According to NHL director of hockey operations Colin Campbell, the players would be okay with switching to no-touch icing or just leaving it as is.

Visors

Finally, the discussion on visors. At first, the drive for visors reached the point where some wanted it mandatory for everyone. Eventually, that died down as the idea to “grandfather” them in has risen with agreement from both sides of the argument.

For those unaware, visors are mandatory in the American Hockey League, college leagues, and North American junior leagues. So the idea to grandfather visors into the National Hockey League shouldn’t be an issue for future generations. Right now, 73% of NHLers wear visors which is an increase from the 69% last season. If you look back into 2009 only 56% of players wore visors.

Yahoo Sports’ Nick Cotsonika mentioned that the NHL Board Of Governors could just vote for mandatory visors without the NHLPA’s consent which would force the Player’s Association to grieve it. However, the NHL says they would prefer to work with NHLPA on the issue. According to NHLPA executive Mathieu Schneider, in 2009 when players were last polled on visors they were “heavily” against making them mandatory even with a grandfather rule for current players. He did mention that they will be polled again this summer.

That’ll do it for the latest updates on the GM meetings. It’ll be interesting to see which of these major ideas will take effect next season. Some other topics that came up in the meeting, but to a lesser extent: staged fighting, diving lists, and cheating on faceoffs.

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