NHL

NHL GMs keep trapezoid, prepare for discussion on headshots

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The Canadian Press
11/10/2009 7:08:14 PM
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TORONTO -- Chris Chelios could find his way back to the NHL this season.

Phoenix Coyotes GM Don Maloney is badly in need of a defenceman and plans to travel to San Antonio to scout the 47-year-old defenceman in person on Friday night. Chelios is currently playing with the AHL's Chicago Wolves and has caught the attention of a couple teams.

"He's there, he's savvy and he's in great shape," Maloney said Tuesday at the NHL's GM meetings. "(But) I don't know -- the pace of the NHL game is so quick."

The Coyotes haven't had any contract talks yet with Chelios.

"We haven't spoken," said Maloney. "He's just another name, a right-handed shooting defenceman, (so we're) saying, 'OK, let's talk about it.' A week ago we were in pretty good shape health-wise, a week later you have two of your top six down."

Maloney has been forced to explore all available options with Ed Jovanovski and Zbynek Michalek both out of the lineup with injuries. He realizes that it's important to find the right fit for a team that is off to a fairly strong start.

Besides Chelios, another free agent that seems to be garnering some attention from NHL GMs is Peter Forsberg.

The Swede is attempting yet another comeback and played three games for his country at the recent Karjala Cup. Forsberg's agent Don Baizley was milling around outside the meeting area on Tuesday and chatted with a few GMs.

Vancouver, Boston, Philadelphia and the New York Rangers have all publicly confirmed their interest.

"I've made it known before -- a healthy Peter Forsberg, who wouldn't be interested?" said Flyers GM Paul Holmgren. "I don't know that he's healthy. I know he played (with) those guys over there, we had a couple guys there watching."

You can also expect some trade talk to heat up while the GMs and their assistants gather over two days in Toronto.

The first day of meetings didn't produce many fireworks -- although the group decided not to recommend a change to the trapezoid rule that limits where goalies can play the puck behind their net.

The merits of potentially eliminating it were discussed, but didn't gain much momentum. The trapezoid rule was introduced as part of a package of changes coming out of the NHL lockout and San Jose Sharks GM Doug Wilson thought it was time to take a closer look at it.

However, he wasn't upset that his colleagues chose to leave it in the rulebook.

"I don't think there's a great appetite to change it," said Wilson. "And I don't mind that because you've got to be conscious that when you change one thing, it could impact two or three other things. We put it on the agenda, we'd asked to talk about it, just to really spur thought."

Ultimately, that's what these meetings are all about.

The group sits down together four times a year and examines several issues around the sport, making recommendations about potential rule changes to the competition committee. A variety of items are put on the agenda for discussion.

"Some of them take literally 30 seconds," said Maloney.

One discussion that is sure to take much longer than that is headshots, which will be examined at length on Wednesday. It's the current hot-button issue around the league and there are a variety of opinions about what could be done to curb blows to the head.

While some are in favour of the status quo, others are anxious for change.

"I'm more concerned long-term about what's going on," said Tampa Bay Lightning GM Brian Lawton, who recently lost rookie Viktor Hedman to injury after a big hit from Ottawa's Chris Neil.

"I had raised some of the concerns long before Viktor got hurt. So I think it's very timely and I don't want to deviate from that (issue). I'm more interested in the long term, what are we going to do, because it costs the teams a tremendous amount when players are injured. That's the bottom line."

Veteran Carolina Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford also thinks it's time to try and institute a rule designed to help reduce headshots.

"The players are bigger, they're faster, and (the game) happens so much quicker and everything is so much harder (than it used to be)," said Rutherford. "We've got the seamless glass now, I know it's supposed to move a bit, but it doesn't move a whole lot. Everything we have is to better the game, which it has, but it also puts players in a position that they can get hurt more."

While the GMs think it's important to debate and discuss issues within the game, they seem united in the belief that the on-ice product is thriving.

There have only been a few tweaks to the rulebook since sweeping changes were brought in after the lockout that were designed to speed up the pace of the game.

"I really think the game's in great shape," said Maloney. "The games are tight. Every game is live or die and it's October or November, for every team. That's probably a good thing for the competitiveness of the league.

"You've got to be careful about thinking you have to reinvent the wheel every time you get together. That's not the case."

Doug Wilson (Photo: Dave Sandford/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Dave Sandford/Getty Images)
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