Tampa Bay Lightning GM Steve Yzerman concerned about head shot protocol, wants more replays
One of the more interesting aspects that came out of the three-day general managers meeting in Boca Raton was a new protocol for players who sustain head shots in games. Beginning Wednesday, in a move mandated by the league, players who sustain head shots must be removed from the bench and examined by a doctor, who must clear the player to get back in the game.
But that raises a big question for Tampa Bay Lightning GM Steve Yzerman, who said he believes only one team travels with a team physician during the regular season. In other words, for most teams, their players will be examined by the home-team doctor, the opponent.
"And that's a concern," Yzerman said. "That's something we have to consider."
The concern is any doctor would err on the side of caution when it comes to player safety, but beyond that is the idea that an opponent's employee is making personnel decisions for another team. And while Yzerman said the Lightning, when on the road, would have a medical representative in the room during the examination, there may come a time when it will be necessary to begin traveling with a team physician.
"It's something we're definitely going to discuss," Yzerman said. "But these doctors also have day jobs. It would be tough for them to go on a seven- or eight-day road trip."
So, for the time being, Yzerman will see how things progress.
"These doctors are professionals," he said. "I trust their integrity. Until it becomes an issue, I'm going to give the process the opportunity to work."
Yzerman said he also suggested that all goals be reviewed and not just for whether the puck crosses the goal line. As it is now, that is the only reason for a Toronto-based review. But prompted but what he still believes was the wrong call when Vinny Lecavalier's critical goal was disallowed in a March 7 loss to the Capitals, Yzerman wants to "go upstairs more frequently and get the calls right."
Yzerman admitted there are practical concerns with his suggestion.
"Let's review every goal and every goal that's called off," Yzerman said. "Let's take it upstairs and the referees call on the ice stands or it doesn't stand. It sounds relatively simple. But one of the questions that came out of it was, how far back do we go? Do we go two seconds back from the goal. Can we go 30 seconds back? What if the play is offsides. Do you go back and say it doesn't count? So there is a lot that has to go into it. But for me I want to see every goal and expand what is reviewable."
All the suggestions that came out of the meetings, including the re-emphasizing of boarding and charging calls, and suggestions to increase fines and suspensions for head shots still must go through reviews by the competition committees and the Board of Governors.
In general, though, Yzerman said the meetings were productive.
"I thought they were very productive," he said. "We all generally feel the same way, of concern (about head shots), but we also want to protect the integrity of the game. We want to protect players but we still want the game to be a great game."