SUN Hockey Pool

NHL planning mini-summit on state of game

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman addresses the media prior to Game 1 between the Los Angeles Kings and...

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman addresses the media prior to Game 1 between the Los Angeles Kings and the New Jersey Devils in the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup final. (AFP)

CHRIS STEVENSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:25 PM ET

NEWARK, N.J. - The NHL will shelve its Research and Development Camp this summer in favour of a mini-summit involving players, managers, coaches and officials.

The topic will be officiating and the state of the game.

"Instead of an R and D camp, that's what we have scheduled," said NHL senior vice-president of hockey operations Colin Campbell after the league's general managers concluded a day of meetings at a Manhattan hotel.

Campbell said the main complaint from the managers was the level of obstruction that has crept into the game, particularly on the forecheck.

A hybrid icing rule, which would see the play blown down if the defenceman won a race back to the hashmarks, was shot down by the managers. They would like to see how it works in the American Hockey League before contemplating putting it in the NHL game.

"The group decided not to implement hybrid icing. From my perspective, it's something that I think makes sense, but I think the group is a lot smarter than I am," said Toronto Maple Leafs president and GM Brian Burke. "We'll see if the American league can try it and see how it looks there.

"I think the sense was the players have been educated and they're very careful now on icings. Touch wood, we haven't had a serious problem with it in a long time. The race is exciting, the fans like it and I think it was more a sense it's not the urgent issue that people think it is."

There was also some talk about carrying penalties over from the end of one game to the beginning of the next, but it had no traction.

"I think that was viewed as kind of radical and it would require a lot more thought," said Burke. "I think it would pretty bizarre to just start the next playoff game shorthanded. I think that needs some study. I do think within a playoff round there are actions that it probably makes sense to have a penalty that carries forward if it happens late in a game, but that requires a great deal more thought, I think."

OTHER ITEMS

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said talks on a new collective bargaining agreement will begin soon and said he doesn't understand some of the dire predictions he's heard.

"I don't understand both the speculation and the degree of negativity that it connotes considering we, meaning the league and the Players' Association, have yet to have a substantive discussion on what we may each be looking for in collective bargaining," he said. "If somebody is suggesting it, it's either because there's something in the water, people still have the NBA and NFL on the brain, or they're just looking for news on a slow day. It is nothing more than speculation at this point. There can't be any substance to it because there haven't been any substantive conversations."

Bettman said things remain on track for the sale of the Phoenix Coyotes by the league to former San Jose Sharks executive Greg Jamison.

"He continues to do the two things he needs to do to secure the future of the Coyotes where they are, in Arizona: one, working to conclude a set of documents with the City of Glendale on the building management situation. And he continues to put his equity together. The City of Glendale, I believe next week, is supposed to vote on the management agreement. Once that's in place, I think Greg will be able to conclude, hopefully, the finalization of his equity raise," he said.

Bettman said he's not yet in a position to guarantee the Coyotes will be in Phoenix next season, but at this point there is no Plan B.

"I can't say anything with 100% certainty. I think the likelihood is, based on everything we know today, the process should conclude successfully, but it's not something I'm in a position to guarantee," he said.

The number of concussions is down this past season for the first time in three years, said Bettman.

chris.stevenson@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/CJ_Stevenson


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