Legislating head hits

Former Flyer Keith Primeau, whose career was shortened by a series of concussions, is an advocate of establishing NHL rules concerning hits to the head.

Though the NHL Players' Association has pitched a ban on hits to the head, the league has not adopted such a rule.

For the first time, change appears possible. The NHL's 30 general managers agreed last month to form a committee to investigate the problem before they meet again in March. They then could recommend that head shots be eliminated.

A new rule prohibiting contact with the head - even with a shoulder - may even be in place next season.

The GMs would follow the NFL, making several new moves to study head injuries and protect players following new studies and congressional pressure.

"After their GM meetings, they came out of there with a plan," said Primeau, whose career-ending concussion occurred nine games into the 2005-06 season, when he was with the Flyers. "That plan, because it's 30 general managers, will take some time, but they are working toward a goal. That, for me, is encouraging."

Lone ref

Stephen Walkom, who returned to the ice this season after spending four years as the NHL's director of officiating, worked as the lone referee last night during the first period of the Islanders-Rangers game at Madison Square Garden.

Dean Morton, who was slated to work with Walkom, arrived late because of "weather-related complications" and joined Walkom during the second period.

- Inquirer wire services