NHL GMs reach consensus on visors

TORONTO -- The NHL's 30 general managers reached a consensus Wednesday on grandfathering visors, hybrid icing and further reducing the size of goalie equipment.

All of the potential changes still need approval from the NHL Players' Association.

Easily the lead item was the NHL moving one step closer to making visors mandatory for first-year players entering the league and grandfathering existing players.

"Our managers are for grandfathering visors," said Colin Campbell, the NHL's executive vice president and director of hockey operations. "All players coming into the league would wear visors. We wouldn't ask players now who don't wear them to wear them. ...

"The NHLPA told us they had some traction in that area."

The NHLPA, which for years has resisted the idea of making visors mandatory, has decided to poll its players this summer to see whether there's enough appetite to grandfather visors.

Mathieu Schneider, the NHLPA's special assistant to the executive director, described himself as a visor advocate after playing his entire NHL career without one.

"By the sheer numbers of players wearing them, you're seeing a big change in visors," Schneider said after Wednesday's GM meetings, which he was invited to attend. "That's going to be something we're going to be talking to the players about certainly this year."

Schneider said the NHLPA polled the players in 2009, and they were heavily in favor of not grandfathering visors into the league. He sees an attitude shift since then.

"Obviously a lot of time has passed, a couple more injuries," Schneider said. "There are a lot more players that are wearing them in today's league."

He said 73 percent of NHL players wear visors.

Meanwhile, the NHL GMs gave their endorsement to further reducing goalie equipment.

"It's a project we want to get to right away," Campbell said.

Kay Whitmore of the NHL's Hockey Operations Department, which handles goalie equipment issues, said the specific recommendation is for reducing the height of the goalie pad above the knee as well as making knee pads more conforming and less bulky in order create more room between the legs.

Whitmore will work with NHL goalies as well as equipment manufacturers over the next few months to try to find a suitable solution. But traditionally this has been a tough issue for the NHLPA with its goalies concerned about protection.

Either way, it will need NHLPA approval via the Competition Committee in June.

"There will be a lot more debate before anything is done," said the NHLPA's Schneider. "The first thing is you want to make sure the goalies are safe. The second thing you want to look at is how the goalies' size has changed the way the game is played. I think we had a lot of good debate on that."

The NHL GMs also decided Wednesday they finally would like to see hybrid icing next season after years of debate.

"The majority of our managers would like to see us use hybrid icing next year," Campbell said. "The players' association told us they felt their players didn't like hybrid icing and were for no-touch icing."

The matter will be resolved at the Competition Committee meeting in June.

The GMs also debated the merits of a coach's challenge in-game, allowing coaches to ask for a review of controversial goals or penalties. In the end, the group Wednesday felt it was too difficult to identify criteria and the idea has been dropped for the time being.