The NHL GMs gathered together in Toronto today to discuss several hot button issues facing the NHL. Some of the topics on the agenda reportedly included how to properly punish goaltenders for leaving their crease to fight, bullying in the NHL locker room, and other potential rule changes. Very little change usually comes out of the early meeting, however, today’s meeting could set the ball rolling for further discussion during the later Spring meetings.
Ray Emery leaving his crease to jump Braden Holtby has left a bitter taste in the NHL’s mouth, especially since league rules limited the punishment they could hand out. It was expected that the GMs would begin discussing what the appropriate punishment should be if a goaltender repeats Emery’s actions.
The NFL’s Miami Dolphins bullying scandal has now sent waves to the other leagues, as they all want to avoid being caught in the same situation. It is good that the NHL is taking a proactive approach to harassment in the locker room, and hopefully defining where the line in the sand is drawn. There is a certain “boys will be boys” attitude when it comes to sports locker rooms, that is all something we can understand and accept, but sometimes players cross the line. When that occurs there needs to be a defined plan of action in order to avoid what happened in Miami.
Another hot button issue that always seems to come up at these meetings is the shootout. According to a tweet from the Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline, Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen is in favor of extending 4vs4 OT, or even moving to a 3vs3 OT in order to end the game more naturally.
— Aaron Portzline (@Aportzline) November 12, 2013
The Alberta Junior Hockey League has used the 3 on 3 format, and it has been successful in having fewer games ending in a shootout. With the issue of the shootout brought up each time, it will be interesting to see if the NHL looks to change the OT format. We have seen 3 on 3 and other formats tested at the NHL Research and Development camp, but it has not been tested at the pro level. An acceptable option would be to try out 3 vs 3 OT or a longer 4 vs 4 OT at the AHL level for half a season and see how it works. Until then, the shootout debate will rage on.