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NHL GMs Discuss Fighting, Hybrid Icing, Playoff Format

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TORONTO (AP) - NHL general managers showed there is interest in extending the extra period to cut down on the number of shootouts by possibly changing the structure of overtime in regular-season games.

Overtime was one of many topics discussed at Tuesday’s annual general managers meeting after Hockey Hall of Fame induction night, along with fighting, hybrid icing and the playoff format that was introduced for this season.

No formal rule changes came about, though the purpose of this get-together is more to set up the next meeting in March.

Forty of the first 262 games this season have gone to a shootout. GMs have been discussing making overtime 10 minutes to cut down on shootouts “to some degree,” according to Ken Holland of the Detroit Red Wings.

Holland proposed five minutes of four-on-four and then three minutes of three-on-three, while Doug Armstrong of the St. Louis Blues and others want simply 10 minutes of four-on-four.

“I think there was an appetite in the room from all the managers and also from (commissioner Gary Bettman) to look at a way to extend overtime,” Holland said. “And we’re talking about possibly do we switch (ends), longer changes and do some things to try to maybe have better ice, whether it’s more shoveling or something.”

Holland said it’s possible overtime gets extended to seven or eight minutes instead of 10, which he considers an improvement he could live with.

Fighting was discussed both in general terms and in regard to goaltenders, after incidents this season involving Montreal tough guy George Parros suffering a concussion after his head hit the ice and Philadelphia goaltender Ray Emery skating over the red line to fight Washington goalie Braden Holtby.

Tampa Bay Lightning GM Steve Yzerman said there wasn’t much of a push to change the punishment for skaters fighting, but he and his colleagues discussed adding more of a punishment for goalies who cross center ice to fight such as Emery did.

The GMs also got clarification on the playoff format, which could include wild-card teams crossing over because of total points even if four make it from each division in one conference.

Under the new alignment and format, the top three teams from each division and two wild cards from each conference qualify.

“Certainly my personal opinion is wherever possible to stay within the division, it creates rivalries, less travel,” Holland said.

“That’s obviously part of the reason why we went to two divisions in each conference was to build rivalries, less travel. Obviously there’s a crossover component, we talked about it today, and that’s why we’re going to continue to talk about it in March.”

Director of officiating Stephen Walkom briefed the GMs on hybrid icing, which Bettman said Monday was an ongoing adjustment for players and officials. Walkom said there are roughly the same number of icing plays as previous seasons, but noted that no one has been injured crashing into the boards.

Bullying was brought up in light of the situation with Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin of the NFL’s Miami Dolphins.

“Every now and then, we all have to be reminded about what’s acceptable and what’s not,” Yzerman said.

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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