NHL notes: NHL institutes social media policy

QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:43 PM ET

The NHL is hoping a new social media policy helps its tweeting players avoid becoming twits.

The policy, instituted Wednesday by the NHL after negotiations with the NHLPA and effective immediately, includes "blackout periods" where the use of Twitter and other social media tools are prohibited by players and team hockey operations staff. The league will hold players and staff accountable for anything they say using social media and warned them that discipline is possible.

"The policy is sensible," NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said on the league website. "It lets our players and clubs participate substantially in the opportunity of social networking while identifying and mitigating some of the risks. To date, our players and clubs have been exemplary in connecting with fans on social networks, and fans should not expect to see any material difference as a result of this policy."

Players will be banned from using social media on game days, starting two hours before the puck drops until after they've finished their post-game media obligations. The blackout is even longer for team staff, with the NHL suggesting it start at 11 a.m. on game days.

Phoenix Coyotes forward Paul Bissonnette, an active social media user, applauded the new policy with a post to his Twitter account, natch.

"I think its good," Bissonnette tweeted. "I don't even play much and I don't tweet on game days. Plenty of off days."

BAILEY FACING DEADLINE

Unsigned New York Islanders forward Josh Bailey is facing a hard deadline to agree to terms on a new deal.

Bailey, a restricted free agent who turned down the Islanders' qualifying offer, needs to sign by 7 a.m. Friday -- when players report for physicals -- or he'll be forced to sit out the entire 2011-12 season.

Due to a quirky policy put in place by owner Charles Wang, the Isles will not negotiate with any RFAs not signed before the start of training camp. The end result is the Islanders, who would retain his rights, could force Bailey to sit and stew.

"Not much time left time now, so hopefully I'll have some news for you in the near future," Bailey told ESPNNewYork.com. "I don't think either side wanted it to come down to the final day. In a perfect world things get done right (away) but it doesn't always work that way. There's not much time left, so hopefully things get resolved."

DEMITRA REMEMBERED

A memorial service was held Thursday for Pavol Demitra, one of 37 members of the Russian hockey team Lokomotiv Yaroslavl who died in a plane crash Sept. 7.

NHLers Zdeno Chara, Marian Hossa and Marian Gaborik were among the thousands who gathered at the arena in Trencin, Slovakia, where Demitra started his career in 1992. Demitra was captain of Slovakia's national team at the 2006 and 2010 Olympics.

"In one moment, the family lost a loving father and the whole country a hockey genius," said Igor Nemecek, president of the Slovak ice hockey federation, who said Demitra's No. 38 would be retired. "(Demitra) was an idol and a role model for our young players."

'CANES HONOUR VASICEK

The Carolina Hurricanes will wear a patch on their sweaters this season in memory of former Hurricane Josef Vasicek, who was killed in a Sept. 7 plane crash outside of Yaroslavl, Russia. The Hurricanes also will pay tribute to Vasicek before their Oct. 7 regular-season home opener against the Tampa Bay Lightning at the RBC Center.

"We are deeply saddened that Josef is no longer with us, and feel that it is important to remember and honour his life," general manager Jim Rutherford said. "A part of both of our teams that reached the Stanley Cup final, he played an important role in helping us establish our footing as a franchise in North Carolina. Beyond that, he was respected and well-liked by all, and we continue to hear from fans whose lives Josef touched. He is greatly missed."

NEW HOCKEY CANADA SITE

Hockey Canada has launched a website dedicated to educating minor hockey players on its new head contact rule.

The new site, www.HockeyCanada.ca/HeadContactRule, explains the rule that was passed by Hockey Canada in May and affects all minor and female players in 13 branches across the country. The rule effectively bans all head contact.

"Parents and players at the female and minor levels need to know that contact to the head will not be tolerated," Paul Carson, Hockey Canada's vice-president of hockey development, said in a statement. "Team coaches should also work with team safety personnel and trainers to educate parents on the identification of concussions and responsible follow-up if a player suffers a concussion. Tools have been developed to support team meetings early in the season."

The website includes videos of what is acceptable and unacceptable contact under the new rule.

OILERS STILL HURTING

Veteran Edmonton Oilers Ales Hemsky and Ryan Whitney probably won't be in the lineup when the pre-season schedule starts.

Hemsky had surgery on his shoulder in March and Whitney had a tendon in his right ankle re-attached in January. Neither feels 100% heading into training camp, according to OilersNation.com, and will likely be held out of the pre-season opener.

"I won't be playing in any of the first two or three exhibition games, but I can't say that for sure, even," Whitney said. "The doctor knows I'm ready to go full-bore with my ankles, it's just about how it reacts to practices and games."

Hemsky and Whitney have been skating in informal workouts but neither is in a rush to play meaningless games.

"The shoulder is pretty good. It's not 100%, yet, but it should be ready for the season," Hemsky said. "It's still a little stiff, but other ways I feel pretty good on the ice."


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