Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke wants to bring back the bear hug to help prevent serious boarding injuries. (Jean Levac/ZUMApress)
By Stu Hackel
The NHL’s second Research, Development and Orientation Camp opens today in Etobicoke, Ontario with a group of the best draft eligible junior players (here’s the list) testing more than 30 potential new rules under game conditions while simultaneously showing their stuff to scouts.
Once upon a time, rule tests were staged during the NHL preseason, or for a year in the AHL, before the NHL would adopt them. Now, they do it this way. The camp provides NHL GMs with a chance to see them as a group and discuss what they’ve just seen. One wise commenter noted that if the GMs wanted to see how removing the trapezoid behind the net would work, they didn’t need the RDO Camp; all they needed to do was watch any NHL game film prior to 2005.
We wrote about some of these proposed rules last month. While a few have a real shot at being adopted, some are just pet ideas of a single GM who wants to convince his colleagues of the rule’s value. Toronto’s Brian Burke, for example, has never been a fan of the 2005 rule changes that sped up the game, and he has pushed his notion of the “bear hug” rule in which a player can wrap his arms around an opponent and take him into the boards. That would essentially legalize holding and re-introduce clutching and grabbing along the boards. Ostensibly, this is a safety measure in response to the numerous dangerous boarding incidents that have taken place over the last few years. But it seems like an unnecessary suggestion considering the NHL has strengthened Rule 41 on boarding this summer.