NHL general managers discussed reducing the size of goalie equipment and increasing video review Wednesday, and the league and NHL Players’ Association expressed a desire to grandfather in mandatory visors.
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“Every little piece of goaltender equipment is now a project for a goalie to get bigger,” said Colin Campbell, the NHL’s vice president of hockey operations.
Campbell said the instructions to Kay Whitmore, the NHL’s goalie expert, are, “Do what you have to do within reason to make sure they’re still protected to reduce the stopping area.”
Current rules allow goalie pads to go 55 percent of the way between the knee and the pelvis.
“The feeling of the managers today was that that seems to be a little bit too generous, and if we can find maybe a number that is a little lower that provides adequate protection, then we’re willing to take a look at that,” Whitmore said.
Mathieu Schneider, a special assistant to NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr, said players should rely on their own talents rather than equipment.
“The other concern is that you see a lot of pucks going high now. Defensemen especially shoot high from the point, and that creates another danger obviously — that was something with the [Rangers defenseman Marc] Staal injury we saw. An awful lot more pucks are going high because you just can’t score on the ice.”
Both sides seemed in favor of visors.
Schneider said some 72 percent to 73 percent of NHL players currently wear shields.
“By the sheer numbers of players wearing them, you’re seeing a big change in visors,” Schneider said. “I’m certainly an advocate — and a bit of a hypocrite myself because I played my entire career without one. But the game’s extremely fast. Guys come into the league now having had to wear a visor before. We’re definitely going to look at talking to the guys about grandfathering them in.”
That might involve polling the players on the issue. The last time they did that, in 2009, players were “heavily” against grandfathering in visors.
“Obviously a lot of time has passed [and] a couple more injuries,” he noted.
Campbell said the GMs are in favor of grandfathering in visors, making them mandatory for players entering the league.
“They’re not going to ask players who don’t have visors on now to wear visors,” he said.
On the issue of video review, Campbell said there was no move to a so-called coach’s challenge. But he said GMs raised many instances of possible review including goaltender interference and offside.
There was positive talk of reviewing four-minute high-sticking penalties, to see if a player had been hit by his own teammate’s stick.
Campbell said goalie interference challenges would be hard, but he was in favor of offside reviews to prevent erroneous, embarrassing calls. He acknowledged that would take cameras in the boards, similar to cameras in the net.
There also was talk of how to prevent “cheating” at faceoffs — having players kicked out to buy time, Schneider said.
“They want to bring back the integrity of the faceoff and try to take away as much of the cheating as possible,” he said.
Campbell said GMs were in favor of hybrid icing, but the NHLPA was in favor of no-touch icing or the status quo.
The issue of staged fights did not come up, Schneider said.
Campbell said GMs did talk about circulating names of players who embellish around the league.
“It’s a difficult issue, but I think it’s certainly something that’s going to keep resurfacing over the next few meetings,” Schneider said.
Player safety was a major thread Wednesday, with GMs agreeing to look at boarding with an eye to educating players on contact around the boards. The goal is to protect players while maintaining the physical nature of the game.
The league and NHLPA is adding a meeting of the competition committee — which features members from both sides — at the All-Star game. The idea is to come up with ideas to put forward to the GM meetings. That will be followed by a competition committee meeting during the Stanley Cup, with anything advancing out of that going to the board of governors’ meeting.