NHL general managers are meeting in Boca Raton, Fla. today, and one thing appears to have center stage - headshots.
With the recent injury to Max Pacioretty and rise of concussions this season, the GMs are expected to discuss several policy changes. They instituted Rule 48 last year, but consequences from head hits remain murky at best.
According to ESPN's Pierre Lebrun, a proposed two-minute minor penalty for any check to the head will be a hot topic of discussion. TSN's Darren Dreger reported that a penalty would be called for any shoulder to the head contact.
The issue of concussions in hockey continues to be a troubling problem for the sport. Several high-profile players, including Penguins star Sidney Crosby, missed significant time with concussions this season. So far, 31 percent of all concussions caused this season have been by "accidental" contact, and 44 percent are caused by "legal" hits.
Today, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman laid out a five-step plan to combat concussions. Those steps, found here, are as follows:
1. Current NHL Vice President of Operations Brendan Shanahan and the NHL Player's Association will work together on equipment reform.
2. The league will revise its current concussion protocol. Players removed with concussion-like symptoms will now be removed from the game and taken to a quiet place for evaluation from an independent doctor. They will need to undergo a SCAT test before returning to a game.
3. Players won't be the only ones responsible for headshots. If a team has a repeat offender of hitting in the head, the coach and team can face disciplinary action.
4. Safety inspectors will evaluate all 30 NHL rinks in an effort to ensure that each is a safe environment.
5. The league will establish a blue ribbon panel - consisting of Shanahan, Steve Yzerman, Rob Blake and Joe Nieuuwendyk - to continue to monitor concussion issues.
While the meetings will cover several topics, player safety remains the hot button issue. Make sure to check back throughout the week for updates on any changes made during the GM meetings.