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NHL to look at standard for hooking, holding and interference penalties

TORONTO - Away from the pressure of competition, Colin Campbell hopes the NHL can find some clarity on its standard for calling penalties.

The NHL's senior vice-president of hockey operations will oversee a rules summit with key stakeholders in the game Tuesday and Wednesday that is tasked with examining the way hooking, holding and interference calls were handed out last season.

"We've got lots of video clips to look at and we're trying to determine where our standard is and if we want to tighten it up at all," Campbell said Monday.

The meeting will be held in place of the research and development camp the NHL put on the last two years.

There should be a healthy exchange of ideas with five general managers (Darcy Regier, Lou Lamoriello, Ray Shero, Steve Yzerman, Mike Gillis) and four head coaches (Joel Quenneville, Barry Trotz, Dave Tippett, Adam Oates) in a room with players, referees and members of the league's hockey operations department.

Campbell labelled it a "think-tank for hockey."

The idea came out of the GM meetings in March, when a number of managers expressed frustration with what they believed to be a slip in standard for the way penalties were called. Campbell invited them to submit video of specific incidents, which will be looked at this week.

"Personally, I don't think the hooking and holding has slipped," said Campbell. "I think we have to find out what we want with intereference on the forechecking and interference off the faceoff."

The league's former disciplinarian thinks the discussion might branch off to other rules like slashing.

"Anything that stops a player from scoring," he said.

This will be the first exercise of its kind since the NHL held a major crackdown on obstruction coming out of the 2004-05 lockout. However, Campbell doesn't expect it to have nearly the same impact on the sport in terms of the number of penalties called.

"That was a much bigger change then," he said. "You were allowed to hook a guy hard three times before it was even thought about calling a penalty. There was lots of grabbing, lots of turnstile (moves) with defenceman sticking people in between the legs.

"It was a major turn back then and it was hard to actually implement."

The latest summit is intended to try and get everyone on the same page.

Campbell was pleased that a handful of players accepted an invitation even though collective bargaining negotiations are ongoing and is curious to see if the attitude in the room is consistent with how the managers felt in March, when their teams were in the heat of playoff races.

"I want to find out—I'm just one guy watching games," said Campbell. "There's lots of opinions out there so I'd like to see us sit down and just get that opinion from particularly the three groups that are dealing with it all the time: the referees, the players and the coaches."

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