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NHL Players' Association in discussions over proposed head shot rule

TORONTO - NHL players are looking to tweak the proposed rule on blindsided hits to the head in an effort to get some form of legistlation in place this season.

Competition committee member Jason Spezza told reporters in Montreal on Monday that the NHL Players' Association is looking to make a counter-proposal to the rule drafted by general managers earlier this month. However, the players aren't seeking any major changes.

"It's very similar," said Spezza. "We're looking for a Band-Aid fix for the rest of the year in case something happens, but in the long term, we have to sit down together and find a better solution than just tweaking a little rule. It has to be something that's talked about. It can't just be sprung on.

"It's too bad because we've been talking for two years to try to get something in place, but it's hard to find the proper language and the right rule."

The NHLPA first expressed a desire to see a head-checking penalty in March 2009.

After meeting earlier this month in Florida, the league's 30 GMs proposed one that would give referees the ability to call a minor or major for any blindside hit where the primary point of contact is the head. It was intended to be implemented next season, but a series of recent incidents has prompted the league to look at fast-tracking the process.

The NHLPA received a DVD detailing the new rule on Friday night and held a conference call that evening with the five members who sit on the competition committee - Spezza, Ryan Miller, Mathieu Schneider, Jeff Halpern and Brian Campbell.

Even though the group appears to have come up with a counter-proposal for the league, a union spokesperson said Monday that one hasn't officially been made. It's expected to come as soon as Tuesday.

"We've talked about some things and we have to bounce it back off the league now," said Spezza. "We've come to a decision that we want to do something, but the league has to agree to what we want to do."

With less than three weeks left in the regular season, the players want to take a cautious approach.

"We've been trying as players for two years to get something in and the league has said there are rules already in place to protect against head shots, and now they want to make a change," said Spezza. "But we have to be careful. There are about 10 games left in the season and you don't want to make a change and put the refs in a bad position."

Any changes made to the rulebook require the approval of both the competition committee and NHL board of governors.

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