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Tuesday, March 11, 2014
GMs want to focus on faceoffs

By Craig Custance
ESPN.com

BOCA RATON, Fla. -- There were no sweeping rule changes recommended on Day 2 of the NHL's general managers, but the league's GMs continue to tinker. Especially when it comes to cleaning up faceoffs.

The NHL general managers formed a consensus to recommend two changes on faceoffs. One recommendation will be to move the hash marks from three feet apart to five feet apart, similar to the Olympic rules, to prevent the jostling for position along the boards that often happens before the drop of a puck.

"And [it] allows the quicker player to to get to the puck and generate scoring chances," said Blues GM Doug Armstrong, who proposed the move to IIHF hashmarks.

The other change will be a recommendation that moves the player taking the faceoff back 12 to 18 inches after a violation is committed rather than kick them out of the circle completely. The second violation remains a two-minute penalty, one that is rarely called.

That helps prevent the strategy of sending in a winger whose only goal is to get kicked out of the faceoff circle before the center is sent in to win a faceoff.

"What we've seen is, the penalties are stiff for the second guy getting kicked out," Armstrong said. "It's a two-minute penalty. I don't think the referees are comfortable calling that and we understand that. The integrity of the second faceoff is less than the first one, because the puck's just going down."

Overtime won't be dramatically altered but the general managers agree that changing ends for overtime is something that should be implemented and will make that recommendation as well. The league will also be moving toward a more liberal ruling for pucks that are kicked in and continues to explore more ways to expand instant replay.

"I think the general managers were strongly of the view that the Toronto situation room be given a little more latitude in ruling good goals versus not goals," said deputy commissioner Bill Daly.

Any rule recommendations made by the general managers have to be approved by the competition committee before being sent to the NHL's board of governors for final approval.