MANALAPAN, Fla. — As far as NHL general manager meetings go, the latest to wrap up after three days in South Florida didn’t spur juicy headlines or emerge with any proposed rules changes.
And that’s a good thing, the 32 execs agreed.
“Things are in a good spot right now, so there’s nothing on the front burner,” Flames GM Brad Treliving said Wednesday. “But it’s always good to get everybody together and find ways to make our great game a little bit better.”
The hottest-button topic at the meetings was the potential expansion of coach’s challenges, which would allow coaches to address friendly-fire high-sticking penalties and delay-of-game penalties where replay shows the puck actually clipped the glass.
In the end, the GMs decided to gather more information before determining whether to bring it to the competition committee in June. If a formal recommendation is made, it would then be brought to the Board of Governors for approval.
The biggest concern is unintended consequences.
“Be careful what you ask for,” Hurricanes GM Don Waddell said. “We want to get it right, but we can’t review everything either. There’s going to be things called that you like. There’s going to be things called that you don’t like. … So where do you stop?”
And does more review cause delays or even more penalties instead of fewer? For instance, if a coach challenges a high-sticking minor and the replay shows he’s wrong or is inconclusive, there would be a delay and that team would face a five-on-three.
“We have the technology in 2023 to get it right, but at the same time, what’s appealing about our game is that most of the time we’re always under 2 1/2 hours,” Ottawa Senators GM Pierre Dorion said. “It’s a quick game. It goes by fast. People are entertained. If you’ve been to a college game, they can be really long.”
On the other hand, Treliving said he believes that, like offside challenges, the risk of a second penalty would be minimal as teams wouldn’t risk the challenge unless they were sure.
Some GMs, like Montreal’s Kent Hughes, also came out in favor of coaches getting an extra challenge. There was even talk about the NHL situation room automatically checking these penalties so there wouldn’t be a need for a challenge.
“Bear in mind, a coach’s challenge was introduced to fix a goal that shouldn’t have been allowed or a goal that should be allowed,” said Colin Campbell, the NHL’s senior executive vice president. “Now we’re talking about fixing a penalty.”
Referees are already allowed to review double-minor high-sticking penalties. There have been 100 of those called this season, with director of officiating Stephen Walkom saying 35 to 40 percent have been reviewed. But Walkom said there could be 750 total high-sticking penalties per year and “we certainly don’t want to be checking every one.”
Similarly, Walkom said there have been roughly 225 delay-of-game penalties for pucks being…
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