TSN hockey experts Darren Traeger and Chris Johnston join Gino Reda to discuss the biggest news and stories at GM meetings, including injury statuses for some top players, expansion of training challenges and more.
What’s the latest on Leafs forward Ryan O’Reilly?
Chris Johnston: Encouraging news of the end of the Leafs, as Kyle Dubas said that Ryan O’Reilly will return before the playoffs. That’s not necessarily the whole question, but they’ve been pretty vague on his timeline leading up to this, especially after he broke his left index finger earlier this month.
An interesting point made by Kyle Dubas is that the nature of rest is motivational. It should be a clean break and heal well. They expect O’Reilly to resume skating this week, rather than the start of the playoffs in five weeks.
Any updates on other players injured in the league round?
Darren Dreger: Many clubs in the National Hockey League have had injury problems. It’s a sweet time of year as you head into the latter part of the second half of the regular season.
The Colorado Avalanche have announced that Arturi Legkonen will be out for several weeks. There hasn’t been much of a Vegas Golden Knights update on Mark Stone since he’s currently out, but he needs a lot more before they have a good idea of where he is and whether or not he can stay. A playoff participant.
You think Ryan O’Reilly, you think Mark Stone, who are the heartbeat of their organizations in so many ways.
What discussions have been taking place regarding potential rule changes, such as expanding the Trainer Challenge?
Johnston: I would say that this is an early stage of the debate. I don’t expect there to be a formal change in policy when the meetings conclude on Wednesday. At this point, they ask, “What do you do with technology?” I think they struggle with the idea of.
We can all sit here and say we want to get as many absolutely correct calls as possible, but there’s a line, especially when you’re looking at more complicated plays and it’s not “friendly fire.” Do you want to review more than 700 fines? How many sticky calls are there right now? If that review comes in the form of a coach challenge, where does the coach make that call? Or will it be the league? They talk about putting a watch on the referee to dissuade him. The thing is, I don’t think they’ve landed in any area, this is going to go away, and I think we’ll talk about that in future meetings when we get together.
drager: I agree. But there’s a PR twist to this, too, right? Because we are very good at what we do. Technology has improved over time and the NHL is tired of getting hit over the head with missed calls so when you see a puck on the glass or a ghost stick or friendly fire in the stick stick division that’s why they have this discussion here.
You need to fast forward and see the big picture. Can you imagine a coach in a playoff, overtime environment, calling a coach’s challenge and going to a 3 out of 5 situation if he gets the challenge wrong? General managers prefer to keep the NHL at home, and the situation room drives whether or not to use video review. But you have the NHL saying, “Well, we messed up once and we don’t want to mess up twice.” So it has many layers.
Will the referees be responsible?
Johnston: They and director of officiating Stephen Walkom addressed the GMs on Tuesday. One of the things he did in his presentation was show a video of a day in the life of veteran officer Wes McCauley. It’s the discussions between umpires throughout a game, how the umpire on the court communicates with the umpire and says, “Hey, you missed a call here or you might have done this.” [It even showed] How Macaulay broke the game the next day and looked at his own performance.
It’s a stressful time of year among umpires and GMs about how these calls work, but there was a little lesson in responsibility as part of today’s presentation.
Red Gino: Day 3 of the General Managers Meeting will have some news to look forward to. We hope to know the date of the lottery draft. With Connor Bedard on hold, expect some pomp and circumstance.