NHL: Is the Violence Out of Hand?
By Patrick Yaghoobians aka THETorontoRaptor
It has happened many times in the past, and it looks to be a recurring scene almost every other NHL game that happens. The hits. Not your average, clean hit, but the nasty one, which leaves someone lying down on the ice, face first, wondering “What happened?”
Just this week, the Boston Bruins and the Montreal Canadiens met for the first time ever since they got into the huge fight which involved goaltenders Carey Price and Tim Thomas. All was going well until the hit happened. Max Pacioretty of the Montreal Canadiens had just dumped the puck and about five seconds after the puck had been dumped, the biggest player in the NHL; Zdeno Chara, hit Pacioretty with all his might, face first into the protection beam near the Montreal bench. After the game, news erupted that Pacioretty had a fractured vertebrae and would miss the rest of the season. Hoping for a huge suspension to be handed out, Canadiens fans were shocked when they heard the news that no suspension was being given to Chara.
This new case in the head shot saga of the NHL brought the sparks back up. It is an issue the National Hockey league has been facing for years, and cannot seem to solve. This issue has been brought up many times in the past, with several players being seriously injured and missing up to half the season!
This is an issue that should be stopped immediately! Whether it is adding more protection in the helmet, or handing out season long suspension, something must be done.
As most NHL fans know, the biggest law-breaker in town is Matt Cooke. He is literally hated in every single arena around the league, except for in Pittsburgh of course, due to his ability to quote on quote “demolish/terrorize” another player. He has been given multiple suspensions for breaking the head shot rule, but seems not to care later on, and goes and breaks all the rules again. Another offender of this rule more recently was Todd Gillies of the New York Islanders. Playing his first game back from suspension against the Minnesota Wild, Gillies goes ahead and rams Wild enforcer Cal Clutterbuck from behind, to earn himself another suspension. Another reason as to why the intake on head shots should change, is mainly because of team’s star players going down for a long period of time, leading to no production for the team.
Marc Savard of the Boston Bruins, was the victim of a Matt Cooke (no surprise) head shot last season in a regular season game. Savard would not return until the playoffs. The most recent concussion to a big name player was the Pittsburgh Penguins’ Sidney Crosby, the player considered to be the closest thing to Wayne Gretzky. During the Winter Classic against the Washington Capitals, Crosby was hit right in the head after the end of the period horn sounded. Surprisingly, Sidney Crosby was able to stay in the game and finished on a strong note. After the Classic and another hit from behind, this time by Hedman of the Lightning, Crosby was forced into the injured reserve, not to be seen on the ice for a long time. He is currently still awaiting his return to the skates and will dominate when he enters. But for now, the young Crosby’s parents are telling the young gun to retire because of how serious this concussion is, and due to the fact that they do not want their son to be injured like that again.
There have been some new rule changes in the current NHL after the GM meetings. A new rule was applied where if a player was to be hit in a situation where it looked like the player was to get a concussion, they would be allowed 15 minutes into the locker room with the doctors to check everything and to make sure that the player is alright. This new idea was brought up by Nashville Predators GM David Poile during the meetings in Florida.
The only problem with this new idea is if the doctor says that the player should not return to action. This would be brutal for any team who is currently in a playoff spot, or trying to get into one, as every player is a huge asset towards winning. If someone like Henrik Sedin, or Steven Stamkos is not allowed to play during the game because of a hit, what will the team do without them. It is a small issue but should be solved as the players get used to the new idea.
In conclusion, my take on the entire head shots aspect of hockey is that it should be stopped. Too many players are being injured and especially during the heat of the playoff races, no team or fan, would like to see one of their beloved fan favorites go down because of some careless hit.
Whatever the risk, whatever the cost, something must be done to protect these players from not only season ending, but career ending injuries.
Thanks for reading!
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