GMs looking to change the way boarding penalties are called

TSN.ca Staff
3/15/2011 8:03:30 PM
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Player safety was once again on top of the agenda at the NHL General Managers' meetings in Boca Raton, Florida on Tuesday.

After hearing commissioner Gary Bettman's five-point plan to curb illegal hits to the head on Monday, the league's GMs are also looking to change the way that both boarding and charging penalties are called.

"We want to apply the rules that are in the book more adamantly," said Ottawa Senators GM Bryan Murray. "Head hits aren't all going to be penalized -- some people outside the game want (that for) any contact. ... it's not really a fair rule to consider given the size of the players and the nature of the game.
"The slamming of players into the boards at times, we just wanted a stronger application of the rule that's there."

The general managers are recommending subtle changes be made to the rule book as they feel that the ability to further limit head injuries exists, as long as both penalties are called more often and with more consistency. 

"You can't just come in today and propose 10 different rule changes" said Brendan Shanahan, the NHL's vice-president of hockey and business development. "Then we're just chasing our tails. We never said when the rules changed (after the lockout) `here are the rules for the next 100 years.' The game, the players and the coaching constantly evolves.

"We will be doing this every three or four years. We will have to evolve with it."

They also feel that supplemental discipline in the form of fines and suspensions should also be applied where warranted. 

Most of the general managers feel as though the state of the game is in a good place, however ways to make the sport safer must be explored.

"It doesn't change the way we feel about head hits being out of the game, zero tolerance for them," said Pittsburgh Penguins GM Ray Shero. "At the same time, some of the things moving forward from the last couple of days are going to be a positive step. I think we'll make some change for the better."

Follow TSN.ca for news and updates throughout the NHL General Managers' Meetings.

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