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NHL general managers to talk head hits, coach's challenge, social media

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

TORONTO - There will be a few hot-button issues on the table when the NHL's general managers sit down for their fall meeting Tuesday.

The agenda includes a review of head hits and a discussion about the merits of a coach's challenge. A possible format change for the 2011 all-star game in Carolina, a venue change for the scouting combine and a talk about a social media policy are also on the schedule.

The NHL is the only North American sports league that doesn't have a formal policy for players who use websites like Twitter and Facebook.

Phoenix Coyotes GM Don Maloney has a number of players that are active on Twitter and added the discussion to the agenda. Coyotes enforcer Paul Bissonnette is arguably the most colourful hockey personality on the site and the team has monitored his use.

"As social media continues to evolve into a mainstream media vehicle, we are working on an organizational policy that will allow our athletes to express their thoughts and ideas yet not embarrass themselves and/or the club," Maloney told The Canadian Press in September. "In Paul Bissonnette's case, he has a great zest for life and sense of humour—yet on occasion we need to remind him he is a professional athlete and a representative of our hockey club.

"On occasion, he walks (and sometimes falls over) the fine line between humour and good taste."

Ideas raised at the fall meeting often set the table for more focused discussion when the GMs get together again in March. A year ago, managers began acknowledging the need to address head hits in November and would up creating Rule 48 later on.

Florida Panthers GM Dale Tallon is introducing the idea of allowing coaches to issue a challenge on plays that result in a goal. His team lost a game in Toronto earlier this season when Colton Orr ran over goalie Scott Clemmensen and wasn't called for goaltender interference.

Maple Leafs coach Ron Wilson immediately acknowledged that his team was fortunate to get that win. Despite the blown call, he's not in favour of a new rule.

"I was the first one to admit that we got lucky on that one," Wilson said over the weekend. "Now we're calling for (change). I'm not dissing Dale Tallon here, but every time something happens in a game we're going to have a rule change?"

One of his concerns with the challenge is that it might make referees look bad. He also thinks it will lead to a significant reduction in scoring.

"There won't be any goals scored," said Wilson. "If you watch half the goals, the goalie's been touched or pulled or something. ... Am I going to throw that red flag on one goal a game because I can? I'll probably win. I don't know personally if that's what we should be doing.

"It's hard enough to score in our league right now."


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