Lost in the recent labor unrest is the fact that some actual on-ice hockey business will soon be discussed.
From Aug. 21-22, a mini-summit of GMs, coaches, players, officials and the NHL’s hockey ops department will meet in Toronto to discuss significant rules — most pressingly, the standard for obstruction penalties.
The meeting grew out of the GMs gathering in March during which some expressed concern that the league had softened its resolve to restrict interference, hooking and holding.
That perception had also been circulating in the media, and while it wasn’t part of the GMs’ complaints, the fact is that with goal scoring having declined annually since the post-lockout rules were implemented, the return of clutching and grabbing was blamed.
Teams averaged 6.16 goals per game in 2005-06. Last season, it was 5.32 per game, on a par with the Dead Puck Era just prior to the lockout.
NHL Senior VP of Hockey Operations Colin Campbell said he didn’t think the obstruction standard was broken, “but I don’t think it’s perfect, either.” He also admitted several teams questioned if the standard had slipped as the season progressed.
“We got eight or ten teams sending things in after that March meeting,” Campbell said. “Mostly we got examples of interference on the forecheck, running the gauntlet, holding up guys.”
The meeting will feature some of the most prominent names in hockey. Coaches include Nashville’s Barry Trotz, Phoenix’s Dave Tippett, St. Louis’ Ken Hitchcock, Boston’s Claude Julien and Chicago’s Joel Quenneville.
GMs: Buffalo’s Darcy Regier, Pittsburgh’s Ray Shero, Vancouver’s Mike Gillis and Tampa Bay’s Steve Yzerman.
Director of Officiating Terry Gregson and Manager of Officiating Bill McCreary will also be in attendance.