As concussion-stricken Sidney Crosby took his first strides on the ice in Pittsburgh in more than two months, NHL general managers on Monday took tentative strides toward minimizing and treating head injuries — a hot topic since Boston's Zdeno Chara wasn't suspended for a hit that left Montreal's Max Pacioretty with a concussion and fractured vertebra.
Commissioner Gary Bettman opened the three-day session in Boca Raton, Fla., by introducing a five-point plan highlighted by a new protocol for head injuries. It mandates that players who report or display concussion symptoms be examined by a team physician "in a quiet place" instead of by a trainer on the bench.
The league will collaborate with the players' association to reduce the size of equipment, a safety engineering firm will evaluate hazards in all 30 arenas, and teams were ordered to change seamless glass to Plexiglass. Bettman also appointed a committee comprised of former players Brendan Shanahan and Rob Blake and two players who are general managers — Steve Yzerman and Joe Nieuwendyk — to examine "topics relevant to the issue."
In addition, the Board of Governors will be asked to hold clubs and coaches accountable for players repeatedly punished through supplementary discipline. According to ESPN.com, Pittsburgh owner Mario Lemieux, who criticized the NHL for mishandling suspensions stemming from a February brawl between the Penguins and Islanders, backed a system of progressive, suspension-based fines that would have cost his club $600,000.