With all the talk of rule changes (especially hits to the head) coming out of the GM meetings down in Florida, I thought I'd give a quick primer on how the actual rule change process goes. It's always easy to blame Gary Bettman for something that's not working, but you can easily see that he's actually got very little to do with the process.
Step 1: GMs recommend rule changes.
This stems from meetings like the current GM gathering. Usually, the GMs break up into smaller groups to discuss various topics, then they reconvene to share ideas and then there's a motion to recommend a rule change. If a rule change is recommended, it gets elevated to the competition committee.
Step 2: Competition committee analyzes and makes recommendations.
Your current NHL competition committtee is made up of Ryan Miller, Jason Spezza, Jeff Halpern, Mathieu Schneider (who counts even though he doesn't skate a regular NHL shift), and Brian Campbell. The committee goes over the GM recommendations, then makes their own set of recommendations about what to implement into the game.
Step 3: Board of Governors vote.
I've said quite a few times over my various blog incarnations that most of the blame regarding the negative aspects of the game should go to the Board of Governors rather than Gary Bettman, as the BoG decides the rules while Bettman works as negotiator and spokesperson. Here's another instance of it. Once the competition committee sends a rule change to the BoG, it's set for a vote. Now, the only instance where Bettman will actually come in on any vote is to act as a tiebreaker. Thus, even if the GMs recommend a rule change and the competition committee agrees with it, it can still be killed in the BoG.