Greetings from a flight back to Pittsburgh, dear readers. These GM meetings have come and gone without a firm abolishment of headshots – no surprise, though still a disappointment. Check out Thursday’s print edition for a couple of stories, including an analysis detailing what Penguins GM Ray Shero was up against at these meetings. Also, be sure to look online for a video report with comments from Shero and NHL discipline czar Colin Campbell. In the meantime, feel free to discuss what went on at these GM meetings after taking a look at Day 3’s comments from Shero and his colleagues.
Please forgive all typos, and praise to my fellow NHL scribes for their transcribe contributions.
= On his view of headshot developments:
“We’re going to see in time how things go. I think it’s a step in the right direction. The league had a play but the recommendation of the GMs, and certainly I’m a proponent of zero tolerance. Short of that, when we start to tighten up some of the rules we already have – more aggressive calls, more aggressive suspensions moving forward – certainly that’s a step in the right direction.
“I’m not sure we were going to get (zero tolerance). As I said, the game’s evolving and we’ve got to evolve with it.”
= On temperature for zero tolerance:
“I don’t have a great feel for that to be honest. My view has changed over the last year and a half. At the NHL level, collegiate level, youth level – I see kids playing hockey and how the game is played. It starts from there and goes to the NHL.
“Some guys, you can see, have kind of changed their stance. Some guys might be on the fence. Some guys might never change their stance because that’s how they believe the game should be played. That’s the beauty of being in there with 29 other managers; we all respect each other’s opinion. I’m not saying my view is right, that’s just how I feel.
“Potentially (there could be a move to a majority for zero tolerance). I’d like to see how game is going to be played with rules we institute now, the tightening of the rules. Maybe next March we have a different stance on things. Hopefully we won’t have another incident right before, like we did last year and this year, and we’ll actually have a safer game.”
= On his evolution to zero tolerance:
“Probably it started last November with the GM meetings being right after the (David) Booth incident, the Mike Richards hit. I said I don’t like that hit. I really don’t. I wouldn’t want to see my son hit that way. I don’t think that hit should be in the game. Then we had the Savard incident in March and I said the same thing. I don’t like that hit, irregardless if it’s your player or not. I have great respect for Matt Cooke, great respect for Mike Richards, the way he plays the game. But, in part of the examples you’ve used in these videos, they’ve gotten it. They’ve showed them this year backtracking, and they had guys lined up and they pulled up. “
= On charging and boarding:
“Be much more aggressive. They’ll look at defining it better, but it might not have to be defined more because when you read it, it’s pretty clear.”
= On shootout discussion:
“We actually spent a lot of time on the shootout, more than I ever thought we would. I’m not a proponent of the spin-o-ramas on the shootout. It’s about entertainment, I understand that; but when I see Pavel Datsyuk on the shootout he is probably the most entertaining player I’ve seen, and he’s never done a spin-o-rama.”
= On hits Tuesday night in the NHL putting emphasis on headshot ban:
“I saw some of the Dallas game, the elbow near the end of the game. Obviously, I don’t think that’s an element we want in our game.”
= On dynamic between GMs while watching games:
“GMs, I mean, you’re concerned about the safety of all the players, especially your own. Last year, back just one year, we played Boston the day before we came down here, Matt Cooke hit Marc Savard, and I shared a cab with Peter Chiraelli. We talked about it – concern for the player, what we should do about that type of hit. It’s concern by the GMs for not only your player, but all the players.”
DOUG WILSON (Sharks GM)
= On the meetings overall:
“As a general manager, I’ll say it’s one of the better meetings we’ve ever been part of, and for a lot of reasons.”
= On the headshots issue:
“The GMs take it very seriously. We take a look at how we want the game played, how we want the rules enforced and the safety of players. This meeting, with the timing of it, with the breakout groups being larger groups, much more input. The research was done by the league on actual data, so you’re making decisions on fact, not on guessing and pulling things out of the air.”
= On watching games Tuesday night with other GMs:
“Every game has its moments, especially when you’re competing hard. So I mean, the thing about general managers is, when the puck is dropped, you respect the fact that you don’t really talk about it. But when it’s all over with, what you’re trying to look at it is the totality of how the game is played. When make our decisions in meetings like this, it’s not based on self-interest or emotion, and it shouldn’t be.
“I think we separate those two, because you’ve got to be honest, when you’re watching your own team, you’re looking at it through the eyes of your own team. That is self-interest, and its personal emotions. You’ve got to take that hat off when you walk into these meetings and you’ve got to make decisions based on what’s best for the game. The best time that we ever had that was when there were no wins and losses, when we had a work stoppage. We could all sit there and not be influenced by that. I think our guys do a really good job to the best of our ability to do what’s right for the game, but it’s very tough when you’ve just lost a game, when your emotions are raw. We all wake up the next day, and you feel a whole lot better when you win than you would’ve if you would have lost.”
= On the hit by San Jose’s Doug Murray Tuesday night:
“It was a hockey hit. I’ll be honest. It was a north-south. We’ve talked about that, and Douglas Murray, he plays hard. I think we want hitting in the game. It was a good, clean hit. That’s something we’ve all kind of understood. What you want to do is take away some of the other ones where we’ve had to educate the players a little bit, clarify the rules. I’ve had several concussions myself, and the majority of them are not caused by a blow to the head. It’s the whiplash type thing. I can speak from experience. The worst one I ever had, it was a body blow, and your brain is like an egg. It just slams against the front. So the research that the league provided us was really valuable. We have to understand the nature of our game and what we can help with. But to think we can absolutely remove everything, that’s not reality in this sport.
“The thing about him is, he hits north-south and he hits you square. When you deliver that type of blow, it takes a little bit of a toll on your body, too, and I think that’s the type of hitting you want in the game. He’s so big, maybe he can’t elevate, I don’t know.
“North-south, you’re going to have contact. You’re going to have … and we do. We encourage hitting within the parameters of the game. Injuries are going to happen. You’re delivering body blows. Guys are going to hurt their shoulders, break their ribs. But you’re also going to have the whiplash from a body blow that can lead to things, too. I will tell you that the research and data that they provided was very, very thorough, and on many different fronts, the areas that we can help are being addressed.
STEVE YZERMAN (Lightning GM)
= On video replay:
“We all have instances where a goal is allowed or disallowed or a play happens that is not reviewable or is reviewable. We want the right call, whether it works against us or for us it’s in everybody’s interest to get the correct call. Maybe we can expand video replay.”
= On the GM meetings overall:
“I’m still relatively new to the process, but I really enjoyed the meetings. I got a lot from them. I thought the discussion was very interesting. In regards to the hottest topic or the topic with most interest, concussions and head injuries, I thought the meetings were very beneficial and steps will be taken, changes will be made that hopefully improve the situation.”
= On the spin-o-rama in a shootout:
“There was a lot of discussion on it and as per the criteria of the rule the spin-o-rama walks a fine line of being legal by definition of the rule. So, it was discussed at length. I think it will be discussed further.
“Right now there are criteria on what can be reviewed and what can’t, and the thought is allowing more things to be reviewed. A call can be made and the answer is well that is not reviewable, and my opinion is let’s expand it because we want the right decision to be made.”
JIM RUTHERFORD (Hurricanes GM)
= On a headshot ban:
“Well, that was my thought for a while. But based on what we did here, I’m OK with this. We may get to that point, but let’s see what this step does now to maybe limit a lot of these hits that we’ve seen.
“You know, you can always ask your question a certain way and look for a different answer. I can say that about a lot of things in the game, what are people going to miss? But the fact of the matter is that when you have these head shots, it’s not just the black and white. Because what happens is guys are down low, and they’re going to get hit in the head. At some point in time, the player has to protect himself a little bit more. And I know the game is very fast, and they can’t always do that.
“So I think what we’ve done here is try to tell the player who’s hitting the other player that when that player is in a vulnerable position, and when they’re close along the boards, we don’t want any extra hits or any extra shots that’s going to injure the player. This is a good step for us right now.
BRYAN MURRAY (Senators GM)
= On video review:
“It’s always about getting things right. We have some goals, some offsides, and some penalties we’d like to see reviewed. We talked about it, but realistically, it is a game of human judgment. You have to allow the referees to continue what they do. There was talk about giving more freedom to the hockey ops people to make corrections if necessary, but I don’t if that’s going anywhere.”
= On the spin-o-rama in the shootout:
“You guys really like the shootouts and I hate them,” said Murray. “It will continue to be discussed, but basically if the puck is moving and the guy spins, or whatever, that’s fine. It’s a legal goal.”
= On hybrid icing:
“Long discussion, but not enough in favor to carry it forward.”
= On trapezoid, red line changes:
= On head safety for players:
“I really think our game has become all consumed about speed and contact rather than maybe the skill maybe we saw previously, but we like our game. Paying more attention to the charging, boarding, the head hits, we’ll see where that goes over the next couple of years before any consideration is made in that area.”
BRIAN BURKE (Maple Leafs GM)
= On increasing the plays that can be reviewed:
“There’s a sense the GMs want to get it right and that would mean adding some of the situations that are reviewable. Right now video review is only applied in a very narrow set of circumstances. I think there are a couple of guys who like to see that expanded. I worry about what that does to the time of the game, I worry about how far back in time a review is allowed to go, I worry about the different camera angles in different buildings. I think the GMs are going to make that case in memo form and we’ll consider it.”
= On what could be reviewed:
“Man in the crease, for example. Puck off the netting. We had a goal scored this year where the puck hit the netting, fell down, no one saw it…and a goal was scored. Anaheim scored a goal where two players were offside. Do you add offside to what’s reviewable? The whole thing makes me nervous as far as the time of game. Review has been a good addition to our league, but I think we have to be careful how far we take it. Too many men on the ice penalties? An icing that was missed 80 seconds before a goal was scored? I think we have to go slowly here.”
= On the spin-o-rama in the shootout:
“I think people know my feeling on the shootout generally. It’s almost the same as if the NFL decided overtime games by throwing a ball through a tire. But our fans like it, it’s here to stay and the spin-o-rama move to me, is exciting. We have to figure out where it’s going to stop. You look at the goal Marty St. Louis scored against Chicago, he came to a dead stop. I think the goalie’s won at that point.”
= On stricter discipline for repeat offenders:
“Stiff enough penalties on the ice and off the ice through supplementary discipline do affect player behavior. Players are smart and they adapt. You’re not ever going to take all the contact out, you’re not going to take out suspensions because a player who is playing on the edge is going to cross that edge once in a while.”
DARCY REGIER (Sabres GM)
What is your feeling on head shots, the managers not wanting to eliminate all of them?
= On headshots of the blindside variety:
“Well, first of all you’re talking to someone who maybe is a little different than the consensus. My view is our objective and our goal really needs to be 360 in nature. It’s got to encompass all areas of the head. We’ve got to figure out a way to protect the player not only when he’s not suspecting, but protect the player on the frontal side of this area.
“Meaning I can be well aware that a player is in front of me, but be surprise by the fact that he actually hit me in the head. And not expect it. So for me it’s important that we continue to work toward 360 degrees and not just the blindside aspect of it.
Are you optimistic that when you come back next year, maybe more managers will agree with you?
= On more GMs agreeing with him next year:
“I’m optimistic. My own personal goal here is to better understand not just concussions, the whole process. We effectively have in excess of 50,000 hits in the NHL of which approximately 100 a year are going to involve some sort of injury deemed concussion. So if you could just go in and pull out those 100 hits, that’d be great, and we’d be at 49,900.
“And if you have to take 10,000 to pull those 100 hits out, is that worth it? If you have to pull out 20,000, if you have to pull out 30,000? Because it becomes very difficult to define, for officials, in nature that– and some of those are legal hits, and maybe they need to become illegal. But even in that, it’s going to be very difficult, with the speed of the game and nature of the game, to figure out where contact was made, how much contact was made. You’d like to think it should be easier, and it doesn’t appear to be that easy. … Until we get that figured out, there’s a protocol in place to better manage the concussions and deal with the injuries. That’s where we are right now.”
PETER CHIARELLI (Bruins GM)
= On what was discussed Day 3:
“ A lot of different housekeeping issues. We talked about some possible video review stuff whether it had some weight I’m not sure. We talked a lot about interpretation of some rules. WE had some good discussion today”.
= On video review:
“Races are tight, guys want to find out definitions of what is conclusive what isn’t conclusive. IT was open discourse with Terry Gregson with how the refs are calling goals and what we can do to help them. It was a productive discussion.”
= On anything definitive to present to the BOG:
“Beyond updates on a couple of different fronts, not really no.”
= On hybrid icing:
= On if GMs going in right direction regarding headshots:
“Absolutely. We’re seeing a real positive evolution of Rule 48, we’re seeing a heightened awareness of a variety of different rules that exist already. I know the temperature is high but we’re also addressing it.”
= On GMs being possibly too timid regarding headshots:
“I disagree. I think when you look at the nature of the concussions and when you look at the evolution of Rule 48 and you look at the, believe it or not despite what the media say, when you look at some players holding up on hits, we saw a lot of those. I would disagree.”
= On amending Rule 48:
“We talked about the possible of 360 degree penalty. Based on the level of discussion, I think everyone was happy with the way it has evolved. While a lot of us label us as hockey purists, there are a lot of guys who are proactive especially in regards to player’s safety. It will never go away but we’ll continue to discuss it.”
= On watching games Tuesday night with GMs:
“Picture one end of the bar, all the GMs and the hockey ops people having some chicken wings and all the screens being elevated and craning their neck. If there was stuff that was related or connected to some of the discussions we’ve had, someone would yell over to someone else. There’s congeniality, there’s camaraderie but everyone is on the edge of their seat because your team is playing and you want to win. It was good to see most everyone there.”
“There’s a lot of discussion that takes place here. It’s a little less formal discussion when you’re sitting around. It’s good that everyone gets together you can kind of share your thoughts in a little less formal stage. That stuff might turn into something more serious later one.”
DAVID POILE (Predators GM)
= On headshots:
“The bottom line is you’re hoping for a safer environment. Obviously less injures.
“Just like that great game of golf sometimes it’s a series of adjustment. You just have to adjust. As caretakers of the game we don’t reinvent the game but we do want to bring it up to the standards where it’s at now. You look at games 20 or 30 years ago there’s no chance the speed was like it is in the game today. The equipment is different, better, hard in some cases. Players are bigger. The game has just evolved and as it evolves you have to make these adjustments.
= On new concussion diagnosis protocol:
“Players are so much more educated on their own health and this is going to continue. Just like the protocol that’s starting tonight in the league for the players that we suspect might have an injury or be concussed. You take a 15 minute timeout. That’s a huge change. That’s a very caring change to make sure that we’re right.
“They’ve got to go into the dressing room to be with your doctor and your training and they go over all the criteria, there’s a test they’re going to have to perform and give them a little bit of time to make sure they get to their senses and they’re ready and willing to come back.
“But once again its best efforts to care for the player to try and put him in an environment that’s safe, try to do the right thing. We’re not going to be 100% when we’re doing these things but I would say it’s a big step to ensure that they’re healthy. Usually after 15 minutes a player’s going to know whether I feel good or I don’t’ feel good that’s a real good step in the right direction.”