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The NHL is "shaking up its stale all-star format," as two captains "will choose players from either conference to make up the teams" for the '11 All-Star Game in Raleigh, according to sources cited by Chris Johnston of the CP. The idea was "formulated by" NHL VP/Hockey & Business Development Brendan Shanahan, who consulted with former NHLer Rob Blake and the NHLPA. Shanahan "outlined the change during the GM meetings on Tuesday but was reluctant to discuss it with the media afterwards." Shanahan: "We've worked for a little while now on this idea, this concept, closely with the NHLPA. They like the idea. Some of the players that they've talked to -- potential all-stars -- they seem sort of excited and energized by it." Johnston reported the teams are "expected to be picked during a live television event at the start of the all-star weekend." Players will "earn a trip to the game the same way as the past -- with fans voting for the starters and the NHL's hockey operations staff rounding out the rest of the pool." Shanahan said of the All-Star Game, "We know what it is and we know what it's not. It's an entertaining, fun game. Fans like to be entertained by the players showing their competitive spirit with a big smile on their face." The league's GMs "seem to be supportive of the idea put forward by Shanahan" (CP, 11/9). ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun wrote the concept is "something fans would find quite interesting." LeBrun: "Look for an announcement on that soon" (ESPN.com, 11/9). Hurricanes C Eric Staal: "No East-West, so it will definitely be different. But it will be fun for the fans to see how the teams get picked." Staal said that the "only ones not having much fun may be two captains chosen to pick players." Staal: "That will be a LOT of pressure, that's for sure" (Raleigh NEWS & OBSERVER, 11/10).SOCIAL STUDIES: USA TODAY's Kevin Allen reports social media use by NHL players "became a talking point at the GMs meeting because some have had concerns with either inappropriate remarks or giving away team secrets." CapGeek.com lists 51 NHL players with Twitter accounts, and Canucks GM Mike Gillis "has an account, too." Coyotes GM Don Maloney: "We don't want to discourage personalities." But he added that the GMs "discussed having a leaguewide policy at some point" (USA TODAY, 11/10). ESPN.com's LeBrun noted Maloney "led a discussion regarding players' participation on Twitter and Facebook." Maloney: "This was more a discussion on how do we get ahead of it? ... There (are) certain lines that you can't cross. It's more just for us to talk about it. Did other teams have issues with it? We went to the NFL and what kind of policy did they have." Maloney's "concern is also when it's appropriate for players to tweet." Maloney: "Last thing you want to see is him sitting in the penalty box tweeting about the three lefts he just threw." LeBrun noted the "consensus among the GMs moving forward is some form of guidelines, whether it's at the team level or league-wide, should be looked at," though the NHLPA "will want to have a say in that." Capitals GM George McPhee: "Should we have a league-wide policy? Should we have a policy with clubs?" (ESPN.com, 11/9). Sabres GM Darcy Regier: "The thoughts on social media are that we don't know enough about it. ... Apparently, I have a number of Twitter accounts, none of them my own" (GLOBE & MAIL, 11/10).
OTHER ITEMS ON THE AGENDA: THE HOCKEY NEWS' Adam Proteau noted the concept of a coach's challenge also was "on the agenda at the GM meetings," but the suggestion "had no traction for anybody other than the man who proposed it" -- Panthers GM Dale Tallon. Red Wings GM Ken Holland's 3-on-3 overtime concept also was "shot down by GMs at the meetings," as were NHL Senior VP & Dir of Hockey Operations Colin Campbell's "proposed changes to cut back on player confrontations in pre-game warm-ups" (THEHOCKEYNEWS.com, 11/9). In Toronto, Paul Hunter reports a "large portion of the day was turned over to discussing Rule 48, the NHL's new means of cracking down on players targeting the head of an unsuspecting player." The GMs "expressed general satisfaction with how the rule was proceeding but could revisit it or tweak it in March" (TORONTO STAR, 11/10).
PGA Tour Senior VP/Tournament Administration Andy Pazder said that PGA Tour rules stipulate that if Rory McIlroy drops his membership for '11, as expected, he "will be limited to 10 appearances at sanctioned or co-sanctioned official U.S. events per season over the next five years, which includes the four majors" and three official WGC events, according to Steve Elling of CBSSPORTS.com. Other non-Tour members "in good standing ... can play in 12 PGA Tour events," the same number McIlroy indicated that he intends to play in '11. But Pazder said, "That would be erroneous. We are in the process of sending a note to Rory and his management. ... If he has a change of heart and still wants to play here (in 2012), he can." But Elling noted if McIlroy "formally drops his membership as planned, he's out of luck" for next year because he "must sit out one year, regardless." Pazder: "Even if he wins the Masters, he can't rejoin the tour next year." Lee Westwood, who also will forgo PGA Tour membership next season, "managed to slip through some cracks" in '10. Had he "not withdrawn from the PGA Championship because of an injury, he would have played in 12 PGA Tour-sanctioned events, two more than he should have been allowed to enter based on his maximum of 10." Pazder said that the Tour "decided a few years ago that in such situations, they would not prohibit a player from competing in a cross-sanctioned WGC event if he had reached 10 starts already" (CBSSPORTS.com, 11/9).
A TROUBLING TREND: Ian Poulter became the latest top-ranked European player to waver on playing the PGA Tour when he indicated that the "increasing number of mandatory events on the European Tour could make it impossible to commit to also playing in the United States." Poulter, who is currently ranked 15th in the world, joined the PGA Tour in '04 as a "special temporary member," but he faces a "big decision after the European Tour opted in October to increase the number of mandatory events to retain Tour membership from 12 to 13." Poulter said of the U.S., "My family is well settled over there, but then you can't deny playing two tours is becoming increasingly difficult, especially with the European Tour number you have to play going up" (BBC.co.uk, 11/10). PGA Championship winner Martin Kaymer is also considering joining McIlroy and Westwood in passing on PGA Tour membership, and ESPN.com's Jason Sobel wrote these players are "proving what many in the industry have been whispering for a long time." The PGA Tour "needs the players a lot more than the players need the PGA Tour." Sobel: "Why are PGA Tour executives likely experiencing a queasy feeling right now? Because these three players could set an example by which all superstars could live." He added, "The game is becoming more global with each passing week, meaning less and less do the top players feel the need to take up PGA Tour membership" (ESPN.com, 11/9).
CONTINENTAL DIVIDE: Golfer and PGA Tour Player Advisory Council member Joe Ogilvie defended European players staying on their home continent for the majority of their schedule, saying, "I think they need to do that because Europe is struggling." Ogilvie: "They've got great players, but from an economic standpoint, Europe is really struggling and they want to support their home tour." He added with Westwood currently the No. 1-ranked player in the world and Kaymer at No. 3, the "way the world ranking is set up if you play against the No. 1 player in the world more often, you are going to go up the world rankings." Ogilvie: "Guys can play against Lee -- assuming Lee is the No. 1 player in the world for longer than a few months, which it looks like he will be -- and they can jockey that system for a little bit. The world ranking has become such a big deal." Ogilvie did note the PGA Tour does need to "get the best players in the world and we need to continue widening our lead, because our tour is still the best tour in the world by far." He said, "That's better courses, better tournaments, better crowds, and the United States is still the No. 1 economy in the world, so they are going to have to play over here eventually" ("Golf Central," Golf Channel, 11/9).
Steelers S Troy Polamalu last night reiterated his desire to see NFL players help determine fines for flagrant and helmet-to-helmet hits by saying a "more democratic approach to these fines would be better." Appearing on Versus' "The T.Ocho Show," Polamalu again said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has too much power in the discipline process, saying, "Why would somebody who has held the power want to relinquish any of it? I think 99.9% of the players would agree that we need to come up with a better system on how we fine players. I think current players should be involved. Coaches should be involved, as well as front-office people, including the commissioner." Bengals WR Terrell Owens, one of the show's hosts, said, "I would totally agree. This is definitely where I think players should definitely use our voices in situations like this and this is only just one of many topics that needs to be addressed" ("The T.Ocho Show," Versus, 11/9). Meanwhile, the NFL yesterday released an 11-page guide that "details some rules" regarding illegal hits and "includes black-and-white drawings of players delivering hits that aren't allowed." The guide was "included in the 2010 League Policies for Players manual, distributed to players and coaches at the start of training camp." The NFL "repeatedly has pointed out that its recent stepped-up fines and threats of suspensions after a series of helmet hits in games were not changes in rules but rather stricter enforcement of existing rules" (AP, 11/9).
Hawks F and NBPA Exec Committee VP Maurice Evans yesterday said that NBA players “aren’t buying” NBA Commissioner David Stern’s recent call for a "one-third reduction in players’ salaries," according to Charles Odum of the AP. Evans said, "We definitely don't agree with those numbers. We feel like the game is really at a great place." He added that the league and the players union “may not be able to make any substantial progress in the NBA labor talks until the February All-Star break, when all players are available to return to the negotiations.” Evans: "If we have a lockout, it's just going to set us back. With the state the economy is in, fans are not going to want to keep getting slapped in the face with players and NBA teams." He called Stern's comments “just a negotiation tactic" and predicted there will be progress in February "because that's a time period in which a lot of heavy hitters per se will be able to come in." Evans: "Everybody will be able to be there and hopefully we'll be able to make some headway." Evans contends that some teams' finances “have been hurt by bad decisions.” He added, "What we do believe is with the current system in place there's enough restraints within the system that they can police themselves" (AP, 11/9).