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NHL GMs break out groups to discuss rule changes, CBA issues

NAPLES, Fla. - One-minute penalties for overtime during the regular season?

That was one of the many issues discussed Monday as the NHL's 30 GMs broke out into four different groups to tackle a number of subjects.

Anaheim Ducks GM Brian Burke is keen on the idea of one-minute penalties in overtime instead of two. The thinking is that 4-on-3 power plays in overtime take up 40 per cent of the entire five-minute period and more than often end the game.

"One-minute penalties in overtime just makes so much sense," Burke said Monday after the first day of meetings.

Any idea that has enough support from the GMs at the conclusion of the meetings Wednesday must then be approved by the board of governors.

Burke's group Monday also included Jay Feaster of the Tampa Bay Lightning, David Poile of the Nashville Predators, Larry Pleau of the St. Louis Blues, Jim Rutherford of the Carolina Hurricanes, Glen Sather of the New York Rangers, Garth Snow of the New York Islanders and Don Waddell of the Atlanta Thrashers.

That group also tackled, among other things: carry-over suspensions from prior seasons; high-sticking penalties and whether it should remain an automatic four-minute penalty for drawing blood; and the instigator rule.

Burke was not in the GM group that tackled another issue he tabled: retaining salary in trades. He has been pushing this idea for two years and has support from many of his peers but the league sees it as a loosening of the salary cap.

The idea is to allow teams to pay part of a player's salary in trades, which would likely facilitate deals, especially earlier in the season. The group discussing it Monday was Peter Chiarelli of the Boston Bruins, Paul Holmgren of the Philadelphia Flyers, Scott Howson of the Columbus Blue Jackets, Lou Lamoriello of the New Jersey Devils, Dean Lombardi of the Los Angeles Kings, George McPhee of the Washington Capitals and Ray Shero of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

That group, which also had the presence of NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly, also discussed: The growing trend of NCAA players leaving school early to sign with NHL teams; the status of the IIHF-NHL player transfer agreement; examining the NHL Players' Association's idea of an 84-game schedule; moving the start of free agency to July 6 or July 7 instead of July 1 when it's a national holiday in Canada; and the idea that players who are traded near the trade deadline cannot re-join his old team for a minimum of one year.

The Buffalo Sabres last November at the board of governors meeting proposed that the NHL establish a research and development arm and that was on the agenda for another GMs group Monday. Sabres GM Darcy Regier was of course in the group, as was Cliff Fletcher of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Kevin Lowe of the Edmonton Oilers, Don Maloney of the Phoenix Coyotes, Jacques Martin of the Florida Panthers, Dave Nonis of the Vancouver Canucks, Darryl Sutter of the Calgary Flames and Doug Wilson of the San Jose Sharks.

That group also discussed: whether hand passes should be disallowed in the defensive zone; whether breaking a stick on a player should be an automatic slashing penalty; and ice conditions around the league.

The size of goalie equipment and bigger nets - two issues that have gone hand in hand in recent years - were the headliners in the final group which consisted of Bob Gainey of the Montreal Canadiens, Francois Giguere of the Colorado Avalanche, Ken Holland of the Detroit Red Wings, Brett Hull of the Dallas Stars, Bryan Murray of the Ottawa Senators, Doug Risebrough of the Minnesota Wild and Dale Tallon of the Chicago Blackhawks.

That group also re-examined the shootout and pondered whether to go to a five shooters instead of three and whether a player that was still in the penalty box at the end of overtime should be ineligible for the shootout.

The four GM groups were to bring their ideas and recommendations to the full group Tuesday for further debate.

What wasn't on discussed whatsoever Monday was the front-page story in a Toronto newspaper that suggested NHL players put advertising on their uniforms.

"It's not something that I've ever had any reason to believe that the Players' Association or the players would ever agree to," NHL commissioner Gary Bettman told The Canadian Press on Monday. "So it's not something that we've given any thought to."

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