Little more than a week after the hit by Toronto’s Nazem Kadri on Vancouver’s Daniel Sedin, the league’s GMs reportedly discussed the legality of blindside hits at a meeting in Toronto on Tuesday.
The hit was one of the most controversial plays of the early season and a play which some thought warranted a suspension. However, after reviewing the play, the NHL’s Department of Player Safety determined the play was within the rules, wasn’t worthy of a suspension and it was explained that not all blindside contact is illegal, only the hits which makes the head the main point of contact.
The decision was enough for Canucks GM Jim Benning to issue a statement saying he and the organization disagreed with the league’s ruling, but commissioner Gary Bettman told NHL.com’s Dan Rosen that it’s unlikely any changes to the rule would be made in the midst of the campaign. However, St. Louis Blues GM Doug Armstrong said it’s something that could be discussed further.
"The last time it was brought up we felt that the picking of the head was something that concerned everyone, and that's something that wanted to be addressed and it has been addressed,” Armstrong said, according to Rosen. “The blindside or the side hit, I think we have to discuss if we want that out of the game, and what point is a hit going to be legal is sort of the slippery slope that everyone is concerned about it.”
Thankfully, the hit didn’t result in any lasting injury to Sedin. He returned later in the contest and didn’t miss any subsequent outings following Kadri’s hit, but that doesn’t mean the league doesn’t want to avoid any future injuries that could potentially occur from such a hit.
Blindside hits weren’t the only topic on the docket, though, and one of the more interesting changes that was expected to be talked about was the potential for a change to shootout rules. Certainly, one thing that will be discussed in the future was the odd goal scored by Florida’s Vincent Trocheck, a goal which some felt shouldn’t have counted, but the issue at hand Tuesday, according to Rosen, was a change to the format of the shootout.
Currently, shootouts run with each team selecting three shooters to start, and if the competition remains tied after three shooters, a player who has yet to shoot must be sent out for each subsequent attempt. International rules, however, dictate that, after the first grouping of shooters, a player who has already taken an attempt can then take another shot. It’s this scenario which has set up two of the most memorable international moments for Canadian and American teams.
At the 2007 World Junior Championship, Jonathan Toews took three attempts, scoring each time, in a Canadian victory, and T.J. Oshie’s performance at the 2014 Sochi Olympics for Team USA was one for the ages, as he netted four shootout goals on six attempts to give the American side a victory over the host Russian team.
If the rules were switched to match that, it could allow for teams to reuse a shooter in a similar manner, and that could make for some thrilling moments, even if it does put an end to potentially amazing moments like Marek Malik’s famous shootout winner.
Rosen also reported the league was set to further discuss potential changes to goaltending equipment, with a presentation from Kay Whitmore, the NHL’s senior director of hockey operations and goaltender equipment. In addition, GMs were also reportedly going to discuss the possibility of giving a goaltender who has to come into action due to a potential injury or concussion to the starting netminder the chance to get in a brief warmup.
Whatever changes are to be made, though, likely won’t be finalized or talked about more in depth until the GM meetings in March.
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