Discussion

Spotlighting possible rule changes

Updated: March 12, 2012, 11:22 AM ET
By Craig Custance

BOCA RATON, Fla. -- The rules will be debated. If you get 30 general managers into one room, break them off into small groups and charge them with improving the game, debate is inevitable. And with some of the game's best players still out with concussions, safety remains an issue despite serious strides the past couple of years to clean up the game.

But if you're hoping to see the return of the red line, or removal of the trapezoid or the addition of hybrid icing, there's a fairly big obstacle standing in the way. Most in hockey really like where the game is right now. Attempts to slow it down in the name of safety will be met with resistance, which means this week's general managers meetings might be light on change.

"I like the game. I like our game," said Columbus Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards. "It's a fast game, it's a physical game. Having played it, I know there are certain risks that go with playing games. I think all the players know the risks and accept the risks. I think the league is doing the right thing to make changes and tweak our game to protect our players, but I like the game. I like the way it's played."

The general managers begin their three-day annual March meetings this morning in Florida, and these three issues will be at the center of the debate:

Returning the red line: There's a belief that bringing back the red line would improve player safety because it might increase puck possession and cut down on the wear and tear that comes with being a defenseman who has to go and get the puck after it's dumped in. St. Louis Blues coach Ken Hitchcock, one of hockey's great minds, thinks that is the case.

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