Back in his playing days, Marc Bergevin was one of the NHL’s biggest practical jokers. Other than the former defenseman-turned Montreal Canadiens general manager carrying a potted plant to comically hide from the assembled media, this past week’s GMs’ meeting in Boca Raton, Fla., was blander than dry white toast.
Let’s put it this way: The lone recommendation that came from three days at the posh resort was no more timeouts from the coach following an icing.
The GMs decided not even to fiddle with the long-standing definition of offside. With so many close calls during offside reviews and nine goals called back because a skate blade was hovering over the blue line rather than the skate touching, some began to mutter that there should be a break-the-plane rule in hockey.
“Offside is actually down this year by a pretty significant margin,” Wild GM Chuck Fletcher said. “I think that means players are adjusting and recognizing you’ve got to be careful not to go offside because if you’re an inch off after a goal, a review will show that.
“I like the rule and don’t have an issue with it. We’re getting the right call a lot more often now.”
Where the review process will be altered is the timing before and after. Fletcher said it can take some coaches up to a minute to decide to challenge a goal and too much time was wasted after the review process to explain the decision to the coaches.
That will stop, Fletcher said.
“There was more debate on how do we speed it up rather than the offside itself,” Fletcher said. “When a referee decides goal or no goal, why is the referee then going to the bench to explain it to the coach?
“It is what it is. The video review has been concluded. If that’s the best call, then let’s go to the faceoff and drop the puck. Let’s be honest: After a review, it’s not like a coach is going to get him to change the call. At the end of the day, one coach is happy and one coach is not. But that’s the decision. Let’s move on. Talking isn’t going to change anything.”
Fletcher said Wild coach Bruce Boudreau, who scoffed at one ref recently for not explaining a decision, is fine with this process.
Other tidbits from the meetings:
• One of the most asinine and irritating things that came out of the meeting is something that had been rumored the past few months: The NHL is leaning toward not publicizing the names of protected and exposed players from each team once they’re submitted to Vegas June 17 for the June 20 expansion draft.
That is beyond absurd.
With so much interest in expansion and fans incessantly wondering what players will be protected for months, leave it to the NHL to douse that enthusiasm in order to protect GMs from scrutiny and players from hurt feelings.
What’s ridiculous is names undoubtedly will leak out. Instead of incomplete lists or the potential of some misreporting names, you’d think the league would want to be forthcoming and transparent about such an exciting process.
• Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly told Sportsnet the salary cap is projected to be $75.5 million to $76 million next season.
• Even NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said the five-day bye didn’t work as hoped. There was no uniformity. Some teams started on the road after their bye, some at home, some were able to practice before resuming their schedule, some couldn’t.
So in future years, the league wants clusters of teams to head off on their bye at two separate junctures in the season. Teams would also resume their schedule against other teams coming off their bye.
“I didn’t have any problem with it from our perspective maybe because there were enough people talking about it that I think our players came back pretty focused,” Fletcher said. “In fairness, with the World Cup this year, the schedule is already a week shorter and compressed. So I think we want to make it more equitable in the future. Everyone is a year wiser after doing this for the first time.”
• With the Winter Olympics in South Korea less than a year away, the NHL still not has committed to its participation.
“There’s absolutely nothing new,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said. “The overwhelming sentiment of the teams is that it’s very disruptive to the season and there’s somewhere between fatigue and negativity on the subject.”
Even though there obviously are multiple versions to a potential 2017-18 schedule reflecting a potential 17-day break for the Olympics, Bettman said the focus now is on a schedule without Olympic participation.
The league has not met with the International Olympic Committee since early February.
“Unless something changes, we’re not going,” Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said. “We’ve said that consistently for three months.”
If the NHL doesn’t go, it’ll need to come up with specific guidelines on how to deal with players and teams that have players bail. Washington’s Alex Ovechkin has insisted he’s representing Russia no matter what the NHL decides, and Capitals owner Ted Leonsis has given his blessing.
Similarly, if national teams have to use non-NHLers, teams need to determine how to deal with minor leaguers who get picked. The Wild is one of those teams that could have players such as Luke Kunin, Jordan Greenway and Alex Tuch chosen by the United States.
• Traded from Tampa Bay to Philadelphia at the deadline, Valtteri Filppula confirmed he wouldn’t waive his limited no-trade clause to go to Toronto despite his former Detroit coach Mike Babcock calling. Sources say every Canadian team was on his no-trade list.
WILD’S WEEK AHEAD
Sunday: 11:30 a.m. at Chicago
Tuesday: 6 p.m. at Washington
Thursday: 6 p.m. at Carolina
Saturday: 6 p.m. vs. N.Y. Rangers
Sun. Ch. 11; All other games FSN
Player to watch: Alex Ovechkin, Capitals
Still one of the NHL’s most lethal power-play snipers, Bruce Boudreau’s former superstar has 27 goals but has been slumping lately, especially at even strength.
“It’s chippy at the front of the net, so I just was making sure he was into the game.”
Chris Stewart on accidentally punching teammate Zach Parise during a goalmouth scrum
Michael Russo can be heard on 100.3-FM and seen on FSN Blog: startribune.com/russo Twitter: @russostrib E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org