NHL GMs break up in groups in first day of meetings; instigator major focus

The league’s 30 GMs broke into smaller groups to discuss different issues Monday but the instigator penalty generated the most buzz, in large part because of the abuse superstar centre Sidney Crosby has taken this season.

Currently the rules stipulate that a player who picks up three instigator penalties warrants a two-game suspension. Some GMs believe that makes it too difficult for tough guys to protect their star teammates.

“That’s an agenda item that I requested,” Anaheim Ducks GM Brian Burke said after the first day wrapped up. “I think we need to raise the number of instigator penalties a player can take before getting suspended. I do not favour the elimination of the penalty but I think we’ve got to get to five or six before a player gets suspended so they can do their jobs and protect their teammates. …

“In our group today, there are six of us in there, I’d say our group was on board for that.”

Other issues discussed Monday included:

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-Goalies freezing the puck too often;

-Player development in the AHL, with a AHL president Dave Andrews on hand;

-The length of pre-game ceremonies;

-The idea of going to one-minute penalties in overtime;

-The standard of enforcement on obstruction.

The instigator rule was the hottest topic.

“You have to get three instigators before you get suspended so I think players are allowed to do their job within the framework,” said Dallas Stars GM Doug Armstrong. “But also you want to make sure that the star players have the ability to do their jobs. You look back in the late 80s and early 1990s with players like (Wayne) Gretzky and Pierre Turgeon and they were getting 150, 160 points on a regular basis there was probably a little more freedom a little more room there and we want to make sure that next generation of players always can have that ability to.”

The GMs are meeting through Wednesday.