PHILADELPHIA--NHL general managers will convene in the City of Brotherly Love on Wednesday, ostensibly to discuss matters of grave importance to the future of the league.
Well, not really. It's a meeting, sure, but mostly it's Gary Bettman wanting to get all the managers in to the Stanley Cup final to press the flesh with the media and generate some NHL stories.
This year, the first winner of the award without a name or a trophy, the new GM-of-the-year award, will be unveiled. The finalists are Don Maloney of Phoenix, David Poile of Nashville and Washington's George McPhee, all deserving candidates.
Bet on Maloney.
The GMs can start kicking around a few trade ideas, and it will also be a chance for some to throw a few ideas at league executives Colin Campbell and Brendan Shanahan, who will be holding a research and development camp for the league in Toronto this August.
Maple Leaf GM Brian Burke, as always, has a few ideas, including reviving an old idea of wider bluelines and a wider redline to reduce the number of offsides and two-line passes. Burke would also like to see the league investigate an icing rule used in the USHL that involves the use of hash marks on races for the puck, rather than forcing two players to skate hard all the way to the end boards.
At Wednesday's meetings, meanwhile, Burke wants to at least initiate a discussion on the "role of the rat" in the game today, or how to deal with Sean Avery-like players whose primary role is to take cheap shots, instigate trouble, take dives and generally make themselves a nuisance to one and all.
"I don't know what to do with the rats, but I want to talk about it," said Burke.