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NHL to set specific guidelines for next year’s free-agent interview period

The 48-hour interview period was a new wrinkle in this year’s free-agency frenzy. And perhaps not surprisingly, it arrived with a good deal of confusion.

In fact, partway through last week’s two-day tire-kicking window, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly was forced to send out a memo to all 30 clubs reminding them that no offers could be made to free agents before July 5.

But not all general managers knew that. Or, if they did, it’s possible some of them just didn’t care.

“Truthfully, it felt a lot like July 1 of the past,” one GM told ESPN’s Craig Custance. “You felt like you needed to get in the game right away. The one positive is you didn’t have that ax hanging over your head, like if you didn’t get to that number right away, the player was signing elsewhere.”

Of course, for teams that played by the rules, it wasn’t particularly fair. And at least one club executive was left wondering why there weren’t any “repercussions.”

As a result, according to Custance, the NHL will be setting new guidelines for next year’s interview period, which will run five days from June 25-30.

Not that crystal-clear rules will stop everyone from bending, if not outright breaking, them. Without definitive proof, like the NHL found in the case of Scott Stevens, it’s extremely difficult to prove tampering.