Thursday, February 22, 2007

GM’s take a breather from rule changes

With the sun of Florida beckoning, the General Managers of the NHL’s 30 club teams decided that the best course of action (other than the golf course we assume) was patience and familiarity.

With a number of ideas up for discussion this week, in the end they didn’t do very much to change the game, instead they concentrated on setting benchmark figures for next weeks trade deadline.

The hot topic this week was going to be a revision to the points awarded for wins and losses, with a system of 3-2-1 up for debate only to be shot down by the GM’s weary of changing the game every time they get together.

Brian Burke who seems to be doing a lot of the talking for the GM’s this week, took the point on the points issue saying that the reason the GM”s turned the idea down was “ because it was a terrible idea”.

Apparently one of many, as the GM’s in the end only made a slight change to the instigator rule, allowing the league’s designated watchers to stand up for the star players a bit more often without fear of banishment through suspension. The league also made a change to the video replay system as another minor bit of house cleaning, but for giant game changing ideas, the week was one of lots of talk and little in the way of action.

What they did work on however was the preliminary work of working out their options for the trading deadline of Tuesday. With the bottom teams setting rather steep asking prices this week, those in the hunt are now involved in a form of chicken with the sellers.

Burke who has a few players on his wish list, is refusing to trade some of the names that have been bounced back at him. Same thing goes for Detroit and Ottawa who have been making inquiries but don’t see the upside in surrendering what has been asked for in return.

Of course that will all probably change as the deadline gets closer, the sellers at the moment are more than aware of their position, but as Tuesday beckons much like a supermarket with a load of meat or produce on the shelves and the store about to close, the managers specials could be pretty interesting.

The new salary structure in the NHL will mean that this trading deadline might be a bit different from those in the past. Many of the GM’s are still struggling to finesse the monetary machinations to keep their stars happy, but still enable them to pick up a playoff run player that could make the difference between an early exit, or a long march to Stanley.

It’s an issue that may come up in future GM’s meetings, find a way to change the financials to allow teams to bank current salaries or discover some other miracle of accounting to allow the teams to remain in the player hunt as the deadline nears.

But judging by their tendency to just talk it out, current GM’s might wish to concentrate on the system as it is now, or ask Burke to speak to the issue. He’s been fairly quick to opinion on most matters, perhaps he can come up with a solution to the problem that all could live with.

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