The Florida sun was out in Boca Raton and many general managers were in full force as they got into warmer weather while debating changes to the game of hockey.
Many new things were discussed such as changes to overtime like a potential overhaul to overtime and shootout procedures. There is an appetite to prevent teams from playing for the shootout and putting more weight on the wins and GMs discussed changing sides during the overtime period.
The other suggestion the GMs had involved changing faceoffs a little bit. When a center violates a rule instead of being knocked out of the circle, they could be moved from 12-18 inches back and a second violation would remain a minor penalty.
Ultimately, the commissioner had the final say. Gary Bettman announced that there would be no major announcements involving changes to rules.
Much of the discussion centered around the NHL combine as many GMs felt teams were bringing in too many prospects outside of the combine to evaluate.
“Ideally what we want is one combine where everybody gets their information and it’s equal for [all] teams.” Washington Capitals’ GM George Mcphee said in an interview with NHL.com
Although no changes were announced, the most interesting thing is that which wasn’t discussed—concussions.
Since the 2004-2005 lockout, concussions have been a central part of discussion among the league and rules such as Rule 48 were put in place to help combat and protect players from concussions. The fact that concussions didn’t dominate discussion this year is very promising as the league has strived to prevent as many concussions as they could, including implementing a Department of Player Safety headed by Brendan Shanahan as a way to educate players on ways to play the game safely.
The GMs were also presented with Bettman and Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly’s review of the 2014 Sochi Olympics. The review wasn’t discussed at the meetings and a decision wouldn’t be reached for another six months according to Daly. This is something to keep an eye on as many players felt passionately about participating in this year’s Olympics and it was a source of contention due to the injury to New York Islander’s captain John Tavares. Garth Snow’s comments, after the injury, didn’t help the case to return. So this could be a cause of contention between the league and the players’ association. The next Olympics take place in 2018.
Overall, there were some interesting ideas which can take shape in the next few years but as of now the league and its GMs feel there isn’t any drastic changes the game needs to improve on.
The only thing that probably improved was their tan.