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Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Teams adapting to rule changes, says Shanahan

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BOCA RATON, Fla. -- NHL vice-president of player safety Brendan Shanahan and vice-president of hockey operations Kris King gave the GMs a briefing on the state of the game Monday and then gave the assembled media a shorter version of the same talk.

Shanahan wanted to update GMs on supplementary discipline and the progress players have made adapting to rule changes.

Four penalty areas -- kneeing, clipping, slew foots and goaltender interference --were reviewed with a video presentation.

"Leading up to the playoffs, I wanted direction from the GMs. I wanted to recap where we are and how players are progressing," he said. "I wanted to get in front of them about a month and a half ahead of the playoffs and ask them if their interpretations matched mine and will they be going forward going into the playoffs when I get that 11:30 at night call when the perspective has changed in the middle of May. They agreed."

Shanahan says the notion players don't respect one another is false.

"I see the majority of players making a difference and making a change. One bad hit changes perspective and we don't see that as accurate. This is the beginning and we have a lot of work to do. But I see every night hits that are passed up and in the past if you came back to the bench you might have gotten benched."

King focused on concussions and advancements the league has made in diagnosing and preventing them.

"We don't specifically give hard numbers, but I can say from the 2009-10 to 2010-11 season we had a drastic increase in our number of concussions," he said. "We are the same this year at this time of year as we were last year."

While the number of concussions may have levelled off, man games lost due to head injuries are up.

"I think that teams are looking at players that are hurt and taking a little bit more time to make sure that the player is feeling healthy enough to come back," said King. "I think everybody's starting to understand a little bit better, as are we, what concussions really are. Taking a little bit more time and working with the player and team doctors, what we've seen is that this has extended the time a little bit longer."

-- Gary Lawless

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 13, 2012 D2

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