<
>

Heard 'round GMs meeting: Coaching searches, draft strategy, Richards' future

BOSTON -- The broadening of Rule 48 was the meat of the GMs meeting Wednesday, but there were other items of interest, both inside and outside the room:

• There were potential rule changes discussed, but only one got any traction. The GMs like the idea of enforcing an unsportsmanlike penalty for players delivering snow showers on goalies, which was an issue in the Detroit-San Jose series.

"I wasn't the first to bring it up, but somebody else did and I agree with it," Wings GM Ken Holland told ESPN.com. "I think in a playoff series, it can be a bit of a tactic that, if another team has a good goalie, to do it and try to get him off his groove. When it's pretty obvious, it's a tactic. We want to nip it."

• There was a rule proposal that, on an icing play, if a team called a timeout, it would be able to change players on the ice. That didn't get enough support from the group Wednesday.

• Another idea was a potential two-minute penalty for a scrum at the end of a playoff game, which would take effect at the beginning of the next game. Again, the GMs didn't support the idea Wednesday, but there's always a chance these types of ideas will pop up again.

• NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly updated GMs on the collective bargaining agreement, the labor landscape in other sports and how it could affect hockey's future labor deal.

• College Hockey czar Paul Kelly addressed the GMs about relations between the NHL and universities.

Other notes after Wednesday's meeting:

Stars' coaching search and Richards

The Dallas Stars have interviewed four candidates so far in their head-coaching search: Kirk Muller, Peter Horachek (Preds assistant coach), Ken Hitchcock and Glen Gulutzan (Stars AHL coach).

GM Joe Nieuwendyk said he's nearing a decision this month.

"I'd ideally like to have it done before the draft, but certainly before free agency," he said Wednesday.

Meanwhile, trade talks involving the rights to pending unrestricted free agent Brad Richards continue.

"I have had discussions with teams. It's our intention as well to move those rights along, and so we're working towards that," Nieuwendyk said.

Update on Lidstrom

The Red Wings still await word from veteran defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom on his playing future.

"I haven't talked to Nick in about 10 days," Holland told us. "I know he went on a family vacation and he just got back. I'm hoping no news is good news, that's what I'm hoping."

Oilers' draft pick

The Edmonton Oilers hold the No. 1 overall draft pick for the second year in a row but haven't made their final decision yet on whom they'll select.

"It is exciting. I wish I had my decision," Oilers GM Steve Tambellini said. "We still have further interviews and more meetings. It's going to be same [as] last year. We'll wait until we get to the final meeting and have all the information, look at organization needs, and then finally make a decision."

Last year, the Oilers debated between Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin before settling on Hall. This year, it's more than two kids.

"I think there's at least five kids that can be in play and arguably qualify as the No. 1 pick, no question," Tambellini said. "It's different than last year."

Leafs could put picks in play

The Toronto Maple Leafs have two late first-round picks in this year's draft and are looking to put them in play.

"We're exploring moving up for the right price," Leafs GM Brian Burke said after Wednesday's meeting. "So far, nobody has taken the bait. That's something that might happen on the floor. We might also move down. If we don't trade up and we get to the 25th pick and someone offers me the right picks to move down, I might do that, too. I told the staff to get ready for anything."

Sens' coaching search

Senators GM Bryan Murray has interviewed six or seven candidates and said Wednesday that he now is down to three possibilities. Murray wouldn't say, but sources tell us that among those candidates interviewed were Bob Boughner, Craig MacTavish, Paul MacLean, Muller and Dave Cameron. Binghamton Senators coach Kurt Kleinendorst also is in the mix, and he has time to talk now that his team has wrapped up an AHL championship.

"I'm going to call Kurt tomorrow and see what his schedule is, and obviously I have to have a discussion with him," Murray said. "Any time a guy wins a championship at any level, it's an accomplishment. He's a real, legitimate candidate."

Minnesota's search

The Minnesota Wild also are getting closer to hiring a new coach.

"We're still speaking to a few candidates at this point, but we're much closer to the end now. Hopefully before the draft," Wild GM Chuck Fletcher said after Wednesday's meeting. "There's a lot of good candidates. For me, it's just a question of finding the right fit, where we're at and what we're looking for. I've spoken to three or four people I know could coach our team and coach it well, but it's just a question of what we need right now."

He said he would like to have his coach in place for his input.

"In case you make a trade at the draft, for free agency, he may have an insight into a player, he might have a player he absolutely doesn't like or style of player he prefers," Fletcher said.

One guy clearly in the mix is Mike Yeo, who recently coached the Wild's AHL team to a Calder Cup final and was an assistant in Pittsburgh during the Pens' two-year run to the Cup finals in 2008 and 2009.

"Mike has five years of NHL experience, and he has 11 years of coaching experience," Fletcher said. "I do think NHL experience is important, but coaching ability's more important."

Sabres and Connolly

Center Tim Connolly is UFA July 1, and while few people believe he'll be back with the Sabres, GM Darcy Regier said Wednesday he will circle back to the player's agent, J.P. Barry, before then.

"We'll talk to him. I think if it's the right situation, we'll look at it," Regier said.

Regier's primary focus in the offseason will be to add experience to his young blue line.