NHL GMs keep trapezoid, will discuss head hits

BY foxsports • November 11, 2009

NHL general managers are keeping those trapezoids behind the nets, and will discuss a potential new rule aimed at reducing hits to the head.

On the first day of the GMs meeting Tuesday, the group decided to stick with the trapezoid rule that limits where goalies can play the puck. The possibility of eliminating it was 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 in 2005.

One discussion that is sure to take much longer 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 GMs favor the status quo, others want a change.

San Jose Sharks general manager Doug Wilson thought it was time to take a closer look at the trapezoid rule, but he wasn't upset to see it stay.

"I don't think there's a great appetite to change it," he said. "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."

The GMs meet four times a year and examine several issues around the sport. Many items are on the agenda.

"Some of them take literally 30 seconds," Phoenix Coyotes GM Don Maloney said.

The discussion of head shots will not be one of the quick ones.

"I'm more concerned long-term about what's going on," said Tampa Bay Lightning GM Brian Lawton, who recently lost rookie defenseman Victor 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, a former goalie, also thinks it's time to 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)," he said. "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."

There have only been a few tweaks to the rule book since major changes were made after the lockout to speed up the pace.

"I really think the game's in great shape," Maloney said. "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."

Two very familiar faces could soon be making their way back into the NHL. Interest in free-agent defenseman Chris Chelios is picking up, and several clubs are checking in on oft-injured forward Peter Forsberg, who could be readying for a comeback.

Maloney is badly in need of a defenseman and plans to travel to San Antonio to scout the 47-year-old Chelios in person on Friday night. Chelios is playing with the AHL's Chicago Wolves.

"He's there, he's savvy and he's in great shape," Maloney said. "(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," Maloney said. "He's just another name, a right-handed shooting defenseman, (so we're) saying, 'OK, let's talk about it.' A week ago we were in pretty good shape healthwise, 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.

Forsberg is attempting yet another comeback. He has played three games for his native Sweden at the recent Karjala Cup. His agent, Don Baizley, was milling around outside the meeting area on Tuesday and chatted with a few GMs.

The Vancouver Canucks, Boston Bruins, Philadelphia Flyers 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 GM Paul Holmgren of the Flyers, who have had Forsberg in the organization twice before. "I don't know that he's healthy. I know he played (with) those guys over there, we had a couple guys there watching."