NHL's competition committee to re-examine rule on hits to the head

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TORONTO - A rule outlawing hits to the head in the NHL will go back under the microscope Friday as the competition committee sits down for a meeting.

The 10-man committee comprised of players, general managers and Philadelphia Flyers owner Ed Snider will look to get consensus on a new rule that could be enacted for next season.

The issue has been debated for over a year following a proposal from the NHL Players' Association that all hits to the head be penalized. The league's 30 GMs were originally cool to the idea, but a series of on-ice incidents this season prompted them to recommend a penalty for blindside head hits at the end of their annual meetings in March.

The competition committee will look to define the specific framework for the rule.

"We don't want to take the physical play out of the game but we want to keep the players safe," Mathieu Schneider, one of the player reps on the committee, said Thursday. "That's the main goal and what our main message has been all along."

The sides haven't always seen eye-to-eye, but there seems to be plenty of room for consensus. Following a meeting at the Stanley Cup final earlier this month, the GMs reiterated their desire to see referees given the power to call penalties for head hits.

Any recommendation from the competition committee will be subject to approval from the NHL's Board of Governors. The board is scheduled to meet next week ahead of the NHL draft in Los Angeles.

Among the other issues expected to be tackled by the competition committee Friday is a discussion on changes to goaltending equipment and a close examination of the proposed outdoor game scheduled for Calgary's McMahon Stadium next February.

Several new faces will be around the table: Brian Burke, Jim Rutherford and Ken Holland will join holdover David Pouile on the GMs side; and new players Mike Commodore, David Backes and Chris Clark will join Schneider and Ryan Miller.

Schneider is anxious to hear what some of the new players will have to say.

"The guys that have been involved in the past have done a great job but any time you bring new blood in—especially the younger guys—for me it's exciting to see them involved," he said.

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