Block that idea!

DEREK VAN DIEST

, Last Updated: 10:28 AM ET

VANCOUVER -- The idea seemed so absurd, that had it been presented by anybody else, probably would have just been ignored.

But it was presented by Montreal Canadiens general manager Bob Gainey, so it's found some legs.

Although it's still absurd.

On Thursday at a league GM meeting in Chicago, Gainey proposed that players should be limited in the way they block shots and not be allowed to sprawl out on the ice.

"I'm not a fan of that," said Vancouver Canucks defenceman Willie Mitchell prior to the game against the Edmonton Oilers. "The game is obviously changing and they want to make it more offensive. But as defencemen we can't hold up for our partners any more, we can't get a stick on a guy, we can't hold up on dump in and now we can't block a shot.

"Maybe we just want to take defencemen out of the game of hockey all together. Shot blocking is a big part of hockey and there's no way they're going to be able to take it out of hockey."

The Oilers, especially under head coach Craig MacTavish, take pride in their ability to block shots.

They've been known to work on the skill diving in front of tennis balls and rubber pucks in practice.

"Generally you get a pretty good sense if an idea has a chance," MacTavish said. "Obviously it's going to get a lot of credibility based on the guy who's presenting it. He's a very credible guy in the game and thinks the game very well, but I think there's definitely room for shot blocking in hockey.

"I think it's a very valuable skill and a way to add grit to your game. It seems like a lot of the rule changes have taken a little bit of the physical element of the game. It's improved the game greatly with the pace and the skill level. But I think our fans like to see a guy go down, lay his mettle on the line and block a shot."


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