Canes general manager Jim Rutherford said a memo issued late last week by the NHL about hits to the head was a "reminder" to the players that the league intends to take a sterner stance on such hits.
"This will continue to bring awareness to it," Rutherford said today. "Our hope is it will be addressed at the March GMs meeting and we can see where we go for the following season."
The Canes have had several players miss substantial time in the past two seasons after hits to the head -- Matt Cullen, Trevor Letowski, David Tanabe and Brandon Sutter. Rutherford was outspoken about the issue in late October after Sutter suffered a concussion on a blow to the head from the New York Islanders' Doug Weight -- an incident that garnered much media attention in the U.S. and Canada.
The memo from Colin Campbell, the NHL's senior vice president and director of hockey operations, noted the league has been trying "for a number of years" to eliminate elbow blows to the head and other hits to the head that were deliberate and avoidable. It said providing the "safest on-ice environment" was a top priority.
The memo said suspensions were be harsher and longer for hits to the head if such incidents continued.
"The league has sent out memos before and we've had discussions about protecting players," Rutherford said. "This is a reminder.
"We're in the middle of the season and changes can't be made until next season. But people have been calling me saying they want to pursue it at our next meeting."