SUN Hockey Pool

Changes to headshot rules on the horizon

MIKE ZEISBERGER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 5:55 PM ET

NHL general managers left Toronto Wednesday after two days of meetings virtually agreeing that a rule change involving head shots likely is inevitable.

Carolina Hurricanes general manager Jim Rutherford, for one, will not be surprised if such an alteration is in place by the beginning of the 2010-11 season.

But there still is plenty of work to be done. A committee likely will be formed that will examine the situation in time for the GM’s annual meeting in March.

The headshot debate, a hot topic in recent weeks thanks to injuries to players like David Booth and Chris Drury, had the GM’s pretty much agreeing on one thing: Blindside hits are dangerous and must be examined.

Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke, for one, has always maintained that hitting is a vital part of the sport that should never be removed. But even he admits there must be some way to make that aspect of the game safer, even if it is a shoulder that makes contact with a player’s head.

“A player should have the ability to anticipate a hit, prepare for a hit or avoid a hit,” Burke said. “If he doesn’t have those, then I think the onus has to shift to the hitter. He’s got to deliver a safe hit.”

The headshot issue had Burke and his peers thinking about head gear.

After hearing a presentation earlier today involving Hall of Famer Mark Messier concerning a new, more protective helmet, Burke said he would make those models available to the Marlies. According to the Maple Leafs president, defenceman Garnet Exelby wears one and has given it good reviews.

“Its up to (the Marlie players),” Burke said of how many would wear them. “I’m going to suggest they try them when we get some in with our colours.”


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