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NHL general managers defer action on goalie fights, changing OT format

NHL general managers met Tuesday in Toronto to discuss a variety of issues but took no action besides agreeing to revisit several topics at greater length in March, when they are scheduled to convene for three days in Florida.

The assembled general managers did not recommend any rule changes regarding goaltenders’ fights, despite the furor that followed a rink-length dash by Philadelphia’s Ray Emery to instigate a fight with an unwilling Braden Holtby of Washington on Nov. 1. Emery wasn’t suspended or fined for his actions, which occurred during the Capitals’ 7-0 rout of the Flyers.

“We certainly had a bit of a debate on fighting,” Detroit’s Ken Holland told NHL.com. “I think the consensus in the room is that we like it the way it is. Certainly we had a conversation, obviously, on the goaltenders' fighting. We're going to further discuss that in March.”

Reports were presented on the hybrid icing rule, which took effect on short notice before this season, as well as on new, trimmer goalie equipment and new shallower nets.

Also discussed was the possibility of extending overtime to decide more games before going to a shootout, but no consensus was reached.

Two proposals that have been put forth in the past and were discussed again were playing 10 minutes of four-on-four overtime or five minutes of four-on-four followed by five minutes of three-on-three. If the game remained tied after that, it would then go to the shootout.

But any proposed extension of overtime would have to be balanced against the reality that ice quality deteriorates late in games at many NHL rinks, and playing an extra 10 minutes on sub-standard ice could hurt the standard of play. Resurfacing the ice before overtime would improve playing conditions but would also extend the length of regular-season games, running afoul of TV broadcasters who have limited windows to air games and presenting a problem for fans who don’t want games to last three-plus hours.

I'm probably in the minority, but I see nothing wrong with ties. The NHL is intent on having a result, though, and the shootout has become part of the entertainment surrounding the game.

There are no easy answers, but it should be interesting to see what the general managers come up with the next time they meet.

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