GMs endorse mandatory visors

BOSTON -- The NHL's general managers on Wednesday endorsed a series of changes recommended by the league's competition committee, including making visors mandatory for new NHL players starting next season.

The GMs also like the idea of hybrid icing, which is expected to be introduced in preseason games next season and could be implemented during the regular season, former player Mathieu Schneider, who is special assistant to NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr and who chaired the last competition committee meeting, said Wednesday.

The proposed changes will now go before the NHL's Board of Governors for final approval.

"I think the GMs are real excited about the visors being made mandatory for the rookies coming into the league," Schneider said. "Everything else we had discussed previously and had agreement on, but our purpose coming here was to make sure that there were no further questions and a little bit of understanding on their side of what goes on on our side of the process and how we come to consensus on things."

As for hybrid icing, Schneider said players will get a chance to play with officials using discretion on some icing calls before the season and see whether they like it.

"We'll see. If it makes the game safer, it's a great thing," Schneider said.

"The way we've put it forth is that if everyone likes playing it that it will start Game 1 of the regular season," he said.

The issue of diving also came up Wednesday, but it's a topic that still needs a lot of discussion and debate before any changes are made to the rules.

"I wouldn't say it's a big issue. Listen, hockey players have always prided themselves on being some of the toughest guys, and when you see some of the plays it makes you shake your head a little, but at the same time [league vice president Colin Campbell] will tell you a story of a player he thought dove and ended up having a broken neck.

"Guys lose edges. Guys step on sticks. There are so many that are gray, even though there are the calls that everybody and their mother knows it's a dive, there are a lot of them that are gray.

"What happens is if you discipline one player, another player says, 'Well, I did the same thing.' It's very difficult. There is nothing that is black and white on it. It's not like a high stick," he said.

Other tweaks to the game the competition committee came up with and were endorsed by GMs on Monday were making the nets 4 inches shallower and eliminating the "attainable pass" call for linesmen who in the past could wave off an icing call if a pass was close to a player, even if he didn't make contact with the puck.