NHL GMs face a challenge

CHRIS STEVENSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:15 AM ET

The NHL's general managers will meet Tuesday and the gathering of 30 bright -- for the most part -- minds is almost always good for the game.

The November meeting is a table-setter, a buffet of ideas the GMs will pick over and dissect to decide what is the serious stuff that could be put on the menu for a vote at their gathering in March.

On the agenda for Tuesday will be a discussion of the idea of a coach's challenge. It's being put forward by Florida Panthers general manager Dale Tallon, whose team got hosed in Toronto on an uncalled goaltender interference by Colton Orr that led to a game-changing goal in the Maple Leafs' favour on Oct. 26.

There also will be discussion about how the NHL's new rule on blindside hits to the head is being implemented; potential changes to overtime to cut down on the number of shootout games; and whether teams need to have a social media policy to govern the content being put out there by players on things like Twitter and Facebook. (You could call the latter the Paul Bissonnette Rule if it comes to pass; the Phoenix Coyotes forward keeps Coyotes GM Don Maloney on edge with the sometimes questionable taste of his tweets.)

On the theme of saying things of questionable taste, the GMs will discuss whether new guidelines are necessary to govern the behaviour of players in the warmup.

The fact is, while the head shots have been getting a lot attention this year -- and finding ways to limit them is a good thing, of course -- the big picture right now is that the NHL's game is pretty good. It's fast, has an edge (some would say too much) and is increasingly dominated by a new generation of strong, young players.

It can always be better and that's where Tuesday's discussion will go. The coach's challenge is the hot topic.

I'm not a fan. The NHL has done a decent job of getting goals right with reviews from the war room. If they want to expand what can be reviewed by the war room -- like whether the goaltender has been interfered with -- that's fine. If they want to be able to see if a defending skater covered the puck in the crease with his hand -- which should result in a penalty shot for the attacking team -- that's OK, too. But why, when the game has been given flow and tempo, bring in another way to slow it down when the war room reviews all goals anyway?

"I don't really like the idea of a coach's challenge," one NHL governor told QMI Agency. "I worry about how the coaches are going to find a way to use it for ways for which it wasn't intended. I think we really need to look closely at this one. I think if it is going to be implemented, we need to have very tight regulations, like it should only be for plays on which a goal is scored and we need to have strict regulations on how you can use it late in a game."

There's no way the scope of a coach's challenge should go beyond plays that are a goal/no-goal call. That would just lead to abuse, especially late in games.

A coach's challenge likely would take a lot longer than a 30-second timeout, so why wouldn't coaches just opt for the challenge and give their best players a three-minute (or longer) rest or attempt to dull another team's momentum?

I do like the proposal by Detroit GM Ken Holland to expand overtime and cut down on the shootout games. He wants to expand overtime to eight minutes from five, with four minutes of 4-on-4 play and four minutes of 3-on-3. The idea is to have more games determined by something close to a traditional hockey play rather than the skills competition that is the shootout.

chris.stevenson@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/CJ_Stevenson


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