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NHL General Managers Meetings, Day 1

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Paul Kelly, executive director of the NHL Players’ Assn., addressed NHL general managers Monday morning to kick off the GMs’ meetings in Naples, Fla. (Wouldn’t it be nice if they gathered in Winnipeg or Detroit or another hockey city?)

Fighting, and whether the rules governing it should be changed, was among the topics discussed. Kelly also brought up the issue of hits to the head and imposing penalties on a sliding scale for blind-side hits to the head.

Kelly and Glenn Healy, director of player affairs for the union, addressed the general managers on other topics, including extending NHL players’ participation in the Olympics beyond 2010 and reviving the World Cup tournament, which hasn’t been played since 2004. Kelly suggested holding the tournament in February, presumably instead of the All-Star Game, and that has some real attractions.

Kelly told nhlpa.com, the union’s website, that he and Healy also brought up ‘TV issues, specifically our players’ concerns about a lack of revenue and exposure on television in the United States.’

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Translation: Versus hasn’t been a raging success and still isn’t available in enough places like hotels and sports bars. Can we please go back to ESPN?

Kelly called the meeting ‘very constructive and co-operative,’ with good give-and-take that allowed him to present players’ positions on various issues. ‘I think that going forward, we have developed a fairly good working relationship with the GMs and the league operations staff and I feel that is positive for the players, as well as for the game,’ he said.

Bill Daly, the NHL’s deputy commissioner, told the NHL Network that it was too early to predict whether these meetings would produce recommendations that will be forwarded to the competition committee and the Board of Governors.

He said that after the initial presentation the general managers split up into small groups that focused on specific issues. The group studying fighting was due to report back to the full complement of GMs on Tuesday.

Kelly said he told the large group that players believe fighting plays ‘an important and historic role in the game,’ but that ways to make fighting safer should be explored.

-- Helene Elliott


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