NHL needs to make right call on rule changes that could come out of GM meetings

Photo credit:Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports
Nick Barden
1 year ago
The NHL General Managers meetings have begun in Florida, and already we’re discussing possible rule changes that might come from this get-together.
On Monday, the 32 GMs were put into four groups of eight, discussing a number of hot-button issues around the NHL. A few topics were talked about, one of which was expanding the coaches challenge for high sticks and puck over the glass penalties.
“They’re talking about it,” Darren Dreger said during TSN’s General Managers meetings segment on Monday. “Two specific areas. One is an ongoing look at high sticks. We know that for a double minor for high-sticking, there can be a call upon review and they can rescind the call down to a two-minute minor.
“Okay, well what about high-sticking in general? To make sure there isn’t a phantom high stick? Now, there can be as many as 700 high-sticking incidents over the course of a season, so there are some concerns. What would a coaches challenge look like?
“On top of that, what about puck over glass, right? Make sure it’s the right call opposed to assessing a penalty. Could that be a coaches challenge? Those are things being discussed, but nothing is etched in stone at this point.”
This obviously is a big issue and it’s definitely a good idea to make the right call. Though at what cost?
A lot of these reviews take five minutes — some even longer. I understand that it’s important to get it correct, but at the same time, you shouldn’t want the game to lose all momentum because of it.
If there was a solution, such as for someone in the situation room to make the right call, then send it to the officials immediately, through an earpiece (sort of like VAR in Soccer), it would make sense.
However, if this coaches challenge gets implemented and the referees have to skate over to the penalty box, look on their iPad, decide what the call is, and then make that said call, there’ll just be more waiting around by the players, and fans.
That’s something nobody wants.
Another topic that was discussed down in Florida with GMs was players having to fight after delivering a clean hit.
“Some GMs definitely think this is an issue that’s cropped up a little more this season,” TSN’s Chris Johnston said on the GM meetings segment. “I think we’ll get a little more clarity on Tuesday whether there’s enough of the room that thinks it’s a problem.
“I mean, remember, there is still a penalty in the rule book for instigating a fight, and so perhaps that’s where we end up.”
I do believe the NHL needs to enforce the instigator penalty more. Maybe even go further to making it a game misconduct for being the first player to drop the gloves.
Would players step up to fight their opponent after they gave a clean hit knowing that they could be thrown out of the game? I don’t believe so.
AHL referees are very good with this rule. There’s been a number of times where I’ve seen it used, and to be honest, there aren’t as many fights after clean hits in the AHL anymore because of it.
The NHL needs to follow suit.
One of the final topics discussed on Monday was cut-resistant equipment, after a number of players including Evander Kane and Ilya Mikheyev had their wrists severely cut.
This, in my opinion, needs to be changed immediately. Players don’t want to change their equipment, and that’s understandable. However, this would be a miniscule change that would help keep the players safe in the long run.
There should not be, under any circumstance, an instance where a player gets their wrist cut open by a skate. It’s a problem that’s easy to fix (get cut-resistant equipment) and I hope the NHL and NHLPA come to agreement on that.
Not just all new players entering the league — but every single player.
On Tuesday, NHL GMs will reconvene to decide whether or not they’ll continue to move forward with discussing these possible rule changes. It’s up to them if they want to alter the rulebook.

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