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NHL GM Meetings: Rule Changes Proposed Are Designed for Player Safety

OTTAWA, ON - JUNE 20:  NHL commissioner, Gary Bettman speaks with Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly during the 2008 NHL Entry Draft at Scotiabank Place on June 20, 2008 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
Mike RappaportAnalyst IIMarch 12, 2012

On the first day of meetings in Boca Raton, Florida, the NHL's 30 general managers focused on the most talked about topic in hockey, player safety, and what steps can be taken to enhance player safety.

One possibility that was brought up was adding the center-ice red line back into the game. After the lockout that cancelled the 2004-05 season, the red line was taken out, and with it went the prohibition of the two-line pass.

However, while the addition of the red line would slow the game down and reduce the possibility of injuries, doing so could also hurt the product of the game on the ice. 

In the seven seasons after the lockout, the speed of the game has been a component of the "New NHL" that has increased the quality of the game. In a press conference in early January, Brian Burke stated that even though he didn't like the way the game was going as far as head shots and injuries, he did say that, "the game that the National Hockey League plays is the best its ever been since we opened our doors for business. It's fast and it's exciting."

Another suggestion made at the GM meetings regarding player safety gained traction among the league's general managers. The idea of a hybrid icing, where the linesman would make the call depending on whether the forward beat the defenseman to the face-off dot, will reduce the chances of a collision between the two players against the boards.

Even though player safety is the number one priority, the NHL can't risk the integrity of the game, and the features of the game that make it great.

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