Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Back to the Future ?

Could the instigating rule become a thing of the past? Well, believe it or not... maybe.

Be still my beating heart.

NHL ready to instigate change?
by Damien Cox
NAPLES, Fla.–Never underestimate the NHL's appetite for going backwards.

That was evident yesterday when a major topic on the first day of meetings among the league's 30 general managers was reducing penalties for instigating fights.

The idea, for some, is that skill players are being fouled too much, and that so-called "policemen" on each team need to have more latitude to dole out punishment with their fists.

Not surprisingly, the chief proponent of changing the instigator rule is Anaheim Ducks GM Brian Burke, whose team leads the NHL in fighting majors this season by a wide margin.

Currently, players who instigate fights are given a two-minute minor, a five-minute major and a 10-minute misconduct, with a game misconduct if they offend again within a game.

Players with three instigator penalties earn a two-game suspension, and Burke wants that rule changed to allow for more instigators before a suspension comes into play.

"I do not favour the elimination of the penalty," said Burke. "But I think we've got to get to five or six (instigator penalties) before a player gets suspended so they can do their jobs and protect their teammates." [...]

The NHL is alone among the four major North American team sports in allowing players involved in fights to remain in the game. As of yesterday, there had been 47 instigating penalties, up from 39 in the same number of games last season. Only one player, Philly's Ben Eager, has been suspended too many instigating penalties.
The GM's could possibly vote tomorrow on the proposed change. I kind of doubt it'll go through, but if it did, I think it'd be great for the game.


NHL general managers recommend changing instigator suspension rule
NAPLES, Fla. (CP) - The NHL's 30 general managers took time away from trade discussions Tuesday to officially recommend changing the instigator suspension rule for next season.

Concerned that skilled players, notably Sidney Crosby, are not getting the protection they should, the league's GMs agreed that a player shouldn't receive a two-game suspension until he has accumulated five instigating penalties. Under the current rules, a player receives the suspension after three instigating infractions.

The NHL's competition committee, which comprises players and GMs, and the board of governors need to approve the change this spring.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman says he isn't concerned about the optics of the rule change, which would essentially allowing tough guys to drop the gloves more often without fear of suspension.

"Among other things, it means a skilled player doesn't have to fight," Bettman said after Day 2 of the GM meetings wrapped up. "This wouldn't be the first time that we adjusted this. You fine-tune it, and if you need to adjust it again, you do."
This is good news.

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