NHL to discuss ban on goalie fights

Updated: November 11, 2013, 4:07 PM ET
By Scott Burnside | ESPN.com

TORONTO -- NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said Monday that the league's general managers will discuss fighting when they meet Tuesday in Toronto, specifically whether they should introduce a rule to prohibit goaltenders from fighting.

The idea of whether goaltenders should face stiff penalties if they engage other players, specifically other goalies, stems from a recent ugly fight between netminders Ray Emery of the Philadelphia Flyers and Braden Holtby of the Washington Capitals.

Bettman I think fighting acts as a thermostat to keep other things [orderly]. I'd rather them be punching each other than swinging the sticks at each other.

-- Gary Bettman, NHL commissioner

Emery skated the length of the ice and engaged Holtby, who -- at least initially -- was clearly uninterested in taking on Emery.

There is no rule to prohibit such behavior beyond the standard fighting penalties.

"There hasn't been a rule against it, and if in the final analysis we think it's a bad idea for goaltenders to skate the length of the ice and fight each other, then you make a rule to prohibit that," said Bettman, who was speaking in a question-and-answer format at the sixth annual Primetime Sports Management Conference and Trade Show.

While the fighting issue will again be discussed by general managers, the commissioner said he didn't think the group would necessarily pass a rule Tuesday.

The general managers meet for part of the day Tuesday and have a longer meeting in the spring before the start of the playoffs, when many rules changes are crafted.

[+] EnlargeRay Emery
Bruce Bennett/Getty ImagesThe NHL's general managers will discuss a potential ban on goaltenders fighting, commissioner Gary Bettman said.

Given the negative press from the Emery-Holtby fight and the idea that, like a quarterback in football, the goaltender should be treated differently than other players, it wouldn't be a surprise to see general managers at some point move for a stiff penalty for goalies who drop their blockers.

"There are things you can do if you believe that that's not the appropriate thing in the game," Bettman said.

"There are lots of people who believe that with the amount of equipment goaltenders wear and the importance that they have in the playing of games for their teams, maybe there should be a rule, and that's something we'll discuss."

As for the broader issue of fighting, which has again received a lot of attention since the start of the season, Bettman believes there is a place for it in the game.

"Does fighting have place in game? Fighting has been part of the game," he said. "I think fighting acts as a thermostat to keep other things [orderly]. I'd rather them be punching each other than swinging the sticks at each other."

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