TORONTO — The NHL’s general managers are looking to clarify rules about contact involving goalies after Buffalo Sabres goalie Ryan Miller sustained a concussion following a collision with Boston Bruins forward Milan Lucic.
The 30 general managers discussed the issue on Tuesday, three days after Miller was leveled when he left the crease to play the loose puck. He’s out indefinitely after being hit by Lucic in the first period of a 6-2 loss at Boston on Saturday night.
Lucic received a minor penalty for charging. He avoided a suspension from NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan because he claimed not to have done it on purpose.
Pittsburgh Penguins GM Ray Shero said there’s some push for goaltenders to be granted a special status similar to quarterbacks in football, which restricts the situations and nature in which they can be hit.
“Several of the general managers just brought up the fact there’s only 60 goaltenders in the league,” Shero said. “We have to be pretty careful in terms of they’re going to play the puck outside the crease and what should be fair and what we really have to look at to protect them long term.”
Shanahan said he didn’t feel that he had authority to suspend Lucic with the way the rulebook is currently enforced. The rule in question is 42.1, which states “a goalkeeper is not ‘fair game’ just because he is outside the goal crease area … incidental contact, at the discretion of the referee, will be permitted when the goalkeeper is in the act of playing the puck outside his goal crease.”
It’s not clear what might happen if a similar collision were to happen again.
“I don’t know to be honest with you,” Shero said. “That’s a question for Brendan.”
Shero and Blues GM Doug Armstrong both noted the play and collision involving Lucic and Miller is rare.
However, there is concern that a precedent might be set which makes it “open season” on goaltenders — as Sabres GM Darcy Regier and coach Lindy Ruff suggested after Shanahan decided not to suspend Lucic.
“When you get into a playoff series and if these guys are going out to play pucks and you can run them over and have a two-minute penalty, I think you’re going to open up a pretty dangerous set of circumstances,” Shero said.