GMs gather to talk about blindside hits, expansion rules

Nazem Kadri's hit on Daniel Sedin has stirred up the blindside debate. John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

TORONTO -- The NHL's 30 GMs will get together for a quick one-day meeting on Tuesday here at the league offices, and Rule 48 will certainly be on the agenda as I discussed in Rumblings last week.

Nazem Kadri's hit on Daniel Sedin, which did not lead to a suspension, has fueled further debate on whether blindside hits should be back as part of Rule 48.

"We need to all be on the same page," veteran Nashville Predators GM David Poile said after arriving at the Hockey Hall of Fame on Monday night. "I speak for myself but I believe I'm also speaking for others, we're not exactly clear as to what is a good, legal hit versus what is a punishable, suspendable hit. I don’t think it’s anybody’s fault, it’s just when you try to put things in a specific way ... . We’ve tweaked the language [for Rule 48] the last couple years, taken that out and that out. What the words say is one thing, but what the eyes see is another. This is just a process we have to keep working on."

But perhaps more pertinent in the eyes of some GMs is further clarification on expansion-draft rules.

"You want as much information as possible," Carolina Hurricanes GM Ron Francis said before the festivities at the Hall. "I’m sure that’s going to be one of the topics Tuesday."

One Western Conference team executive told me he was caught off guard when word leaked out of a 48-hour window for Vegas to sign unprotected free agents -- unrestricted or restricted -- before the expansion draft.

In particular, he had this question for me: What if Vegas agrees to terms with a pending UFA in that 48-hour window but doesn’t actually sign him until July 1 (wink, wink) in order to snag another player off that team’s roster in the expansion draft?

The rules state that if Vegas signs a free agent from a team in that 48-hour June window, that team no longer can lose a player in the expansion draft.

Good question, indeed. It’s the type of thing some GMs will seek clarity on Tuesday.

Another bone of contention? One GM complained to me about the five-day bye weeks that are in place this season for the first time. It’s a concession the NHLPA got last year in exchange for agreeing to the three-on-three All-Star format. But between the World Cup of Hockey and bye weeks, the NHL schedule is condensed beyond the norm this season and some GMs aren’t happy. My guess is this particular GM will want to know if these bye weeks are here to stay past this season.

Noticeably absent from the GMs meeting Tuesday was Las Vegas GM George McPhee.

The Vegas expansion team doesn’t yet have "franchise rights" until their transaction to enter the league officially closes, which is expected sometime in the spring. In other words, not until their final payment on that $500 million expansion fee is made.

The more important GMs meeting is in March -- those go for three days and carry more deep discussion and sometimes action. Perhaps we’ll see McPhee there.