Drawing the Red Line

As the season winds down and teams fight for playoff positioning, the General Managers are set to meet.  There is said to be few pressing issues which means the discussion will revolve around player safety.  With the number of injuries and especially concussions, this should be the main topic.  There have been some options brought up but not one has major support.  Here is a look at some of those.
Perhaps the most discussion is on reinstating the red line for the two line offside pass.  This former rule was eliminated during the lockout and required a stoppage in play if a pass originated from the defensive zone and accepted on the offensive side of the center red line, unless the puck crossed the line before the player.  Some GMs believe this will slow the play some and reduce the number of dangerous hits.  However, it could also slow the game down in a league where scoring is decreasing already.

Some general managers are now saying they want proof that bringing the center line back is going to lower concussions.  By quick analysis of the hits that have caused concussions, it is evident they would not be out of the game.  That is the essence of any rule change for player safety at this point, however.  It is the type of hits that are being allowed and not disciplined at a higher level.

A perfect illustration of this occurred last week when Niklas Kronwall hit Jakub Voracek, who was clearly fuzzy trying to get off the ice.  Kronwall turned his back to Voracek trying to keep the puck in the offensive zone, which had nothing to do with the center line.  The Flyers' forward had hit head down and was not aware of the impending hit. Voracek's hit was clearly hit by the check, but it was judged to be a full body check and no discipline was sent down by the league.  There should be no gray area with impact but this hit was allowed.  It was on the head and Kronwall backing in is quite an odd way to approach a collision, which he has done before.   You be the judge.

There was also a discussion of the "rinkette" or Bowman line across the faceoff circles  in the defensive zone.  Players would have to get above this line to make the two line pass.  There is not much backing for the Bowman line.  With games like Toronto versus Philadelphia going scoreless into overtime making Phil Kessel yawn and the lack of evidence that this line would help with the concussion epidemics, I doubt this gets approval.  It is more about the type of hit being allowed.

Icing could be looked at as well as waiving off icing has become more and more popular.  A stick can be waived near a puck or just have a tip somewhere that barely slows down a clearance effort.  The gray area has grown around the rule and there have been a couple instances in the last week where an unclear icing call led to a late period goal.

As mentioned scoring is down this year.  Penalty calls are inconsistent.  The Pens and Panthers were not happy with the officiating in Friday's game.  Grabbing and clutching is  allowed at a higher level.  The interference on a dumb in is more and more evident.  Obstruction on faceoffs and dump ins are more obvious by the game.  Perhaps the GMs can look at these and how they change the competition level.  Anything you would like to have them discuss?


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