I think that we can expect on Wednesday that there will be a very specific recommendation by the NHL general managers on the issue of head-shots in the game.
It is not that the league's GMs are looking to try and take hitting out of the game, but what they are looking to eliminate are the "blind-side" hits; checks that are coming from the side or from behind and delivering a shoulder and delivering it directly to the head of an opposing player. They are trying to get rid of the exact type of hits that we have already seen this year, think of Mike Richards hit on David Booth or more recently Matt Cooke's hit on Marc Savard.
Those types of hits are the kind that the National Hockey League wants their officials to be able to penalize with a two or a five minute penalty and wants Colin Campbell to engage in supplementary discipline.
On top of that, the league is still discussing what is the exact definition of "a late hit" in terms of when it is being applied to an opponent's head.
Thinking Outside the Box
One of the more interesting ideas brought up this week at the general manager's meetings is the "play in" to the playoffs or the mini-tournament for the final playoff seed involving teams that finish outside of the top seven in each conference. That idea is not going to get a lot of traction despite the fact that it has been talked about before. It's an entertaining idea, but that is simply not enough to get it pushed through.
Pittsburgh Penguins' GM Ray Shero talked about the idea of a change to how the All-Stars are selected. Having two chosen captains "pick" their teams much like how you would in a shinny game. I can't see that happening. Can you imagine Alex Ovechkin or Sidney Crosby leaving someone off the team and giving the "snubbed" player an axe to grind with one of the league's superstars?
Another idea that was brought up and discussed at length was the idea of a "coach's challenge," similar to one that the NFL uses. The idea would be that once and only once in a game, a coach would be able to "throw the flag" and challenge a play to be reviewed by video. Unfortunately it appears that may be too much of a slippery slope and could seriously lengthen games.
There were a few ideas that did gain some traction. Number one, tiebreakers at the end of the regular season. What happens when two teams have the same number of points? Right now the current tiebreaker is wins, but of course the problem that presents itself is that sometimes teams are tied in the number of wins that they have picked up throughout the regular season. The proposal would take into account the most regulation-time victories as the deciding factor so that shootout victories would not be worth as much under that format.
Another idea is that there would be no lists of players for the shootout at the end of overtime. Currently coaches have to scribble three names of the players that will participate in the shootout, but the thinking is: What's the point? The GMs don't see that as necessary and it could easily be done away with.
So while nothing has been written in stone, it does appear as though the lines of discussion are wide open as they approach the final day of meetings on Wednesday.