When Cooke blasted Boston's Marc Savard with a vicious, stupid, reckless, dangerous, and apparently -- by the letter of the NHL law -- legal hit nearly two weeks ago, it brought the headshot debate back to the forefront. With the general managers already holding a planned get-together, there was a convenient excuse to get something ironed out that would help protect players from future danger.
While the league still doesn't appear prepared to introduce a new penalty into the rulebook while the regular season is winding down, it does look like they are willing to look at the addition of a rule that would allow for supplemental discipline.
The latest plan from the NHL calls for a rule to be instituted, but only enforced for the purposes of supplemental discipline.
"A penalty call on the ice [based on any new rule] would be a difficult thing to consistently administer at this time," said Colin Campbell, the NHL's Senior Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations, during an appearance on NHL Live! radio.
The alternative measure would be for any potential violation to be reviewed by Campbell and his Hockey Operations staff. Any questionable play would involve "a lateral, back pressure or blind-side hit to an opponent where the head is targeted and/or the principal point of contact is not permitted."
At last week's general managers meeting in Boca Raton, Fla., the GMs of all 30 NHL clubs unanimously approved this quoted language about "lateral, back pressure or blind-side hits." The second sentence of the GMs' proposed new rule language was "A violation of the above will result in a minor or major penalty and shall be reviewed for possible supplemental discipline."
The league will send a DVD out to all 30 teams, presumably including the Cooke hit on Savard and other controversial hits that have happened this season.
It's the next best option. While it's still mysterious how this rule can't be put in the book "on the fly" like the Sean Avery Rule was in 2008, the league clearly has some understanding of the situation they'll be putting themselves in if they don't do something.