Habs Gauthier pleads his case at GM meetings

The NHL's Board of Governor's meetings are underway, in Boca Raton Florida, and Montreal Canadiens GM Pierre Gauthier is doing as we were told he would.

Speaking at the first day of the spring session, Gauthier reinforced the statement issued by team owner Geoff Molson last week.

With the recent incident involving Max Pacioretty and Zdeno Chara, the debate of what must be done to has gone league-wide. Gauther is determined to have the issue of player safety and accountable disciplinary action discussed.

The pace of the game seems to be the biggest concern to Gauthier who said, "We have a fast game and we have really improved the game with our new rules since the lockout, but one of the things that has crept in is there are some collisions at full speed.

"We need to address that fact. We need to adjust. I think there is definitely a will amongst the group here to do something."

Part of that problem is the new rules, notably the anti-obstruction rules. With those in place, defending players  cannot clutch and grab as they once could. End result, players are moving at faster speeds and the only way a defender can stop them is with a body check or take a hooking or tripping call.

While Gauthier feels optimistic that several GMs are on board with him, some seem to be remaining quiet, at least publicly, on the issue.

Molson's statement must clearly be working, as NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman announced the look at a five-point plan to improve player safety.

The commissioner also presented some numbers on concussions, noting that those resulting from illegal hits have dropped from 26% to 17% in their recent study. Only one concussion has came from a blindeside hit. Bettman attributed that statistic to League Rule 48.

While the league is now admitting that player safety is more of a concern, Gauthier still feels that proper disciplinary action needs to be assessed for offending players.

"The league needs to lower the threshold between what is acceptable and what is not acceptable, and we have the ability to do that.

"I think we're still seeing some dangerous hits and we need to address the fact that we can draw the line at a lower level in terms of what we deem dangerous and not dangerous hits."

That part of that battle may be a more difficult one, based on Bettman's recent "poll" of GM's that felt the recent decision in the Chara/Pacioretty situation was the correct one.

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