Sunday, November 23, 2008

Weekly Topic--Head Shots

Should they be banned from the game or are they an unavoidable part of hockey? YES.
Should the health of the victim be considered when dealing suspensions? YES.
What about the reputation of the offending party? YES.

Hits to the head are a part of the game. Especially unintentional hits. But what about those that are clearly intentional. Even if they're considered "clean" hits, that doesn't make them acceptable. I know that tightening the rules on head shots puts more power in the hands of the referees, asked once again to make another serious judgement call. If you look at Doug Weight's hit on Brandon Sutter, it was a "clean" hit. It seems to me then that the definition of "clean" should be examined. And yes, Brandon should've had his head up and been a little more aware of what was coming at him, but that is not an acceptable excuse. He was playing the puck, trying to keep it on his stick.

Should the health of the victim be considered? Yes. Some guys can shake off hits that aren't as bad as the one above. Brandon Sutter literally didn't know who his dad was. You can't tell me there shouldn't be punishment for that. There should be harsher punishments enforced by the league to prevent serious injuries. I know some hits are still going to happen, it's a physical sport. I mean, a guy on the Tri-City Americans broke his leg when his skate hit a rut--no one even near him, so I know injuries happen. But if they can be prevented, shouldn't the players want that? Brandon Sutter's just a bebeh in the league, his body will endure many more hits and and what point do they add up and shorten what will likely be a great career? I don't imagine there is any player out there that intends to end the career of another, and no one wants a no-touch game.

As for the reputation of the offending party, it will depend on how seriously the league and NHLPA decide to crack down on hits to the head. If they do start punishing these hits and guys still aren't getting the message and are repeat offenders, then yah, they should receive harsher punishments.

Obviously there is no easy solution when there is this debate over hits to the head. I hope the league and the NHLPA takes a serious look at the situation. Stop arguing about the size of goalie pads and worry about the health and safety of your players.

Since I'm in a youtube mood, here's a hit similar to the Sutter one (only behind the net instead of center ice) by Judd Blackwater on Drew Hoff. It was ruled a clean hit, but Hoffer suffered a major concussion because of this hit. Yes, I'm still bitter about it.

1 comment:

Kerri said...

I'm sorry, but I completely disagree with the Doug Weight hit. I was at that game, and I was terrified for Brandon Sutter. I was shocked he got off the ice without the use of a stretcher.

However, it is Sutter's responsibility to see the ice and know what is going on around him. Play with your head up! Weight committed to the hit, what did you want him to do? He didn't lead with his elbow and his skates didn't leave the ice. He risked injury to himself or to allow a break out pass as he was out of position- because he was committed to the hit. I'm sure the Islanders would have been THRILLED if he backed off and caused a rush (and maybe a goal) because Sutter wasn't paying attention so Weight had to pull up.

I hate seeing people get hurt. But Weight isn't a dirty player and he threw a by-the-rule-book, clean hard hit. And that's a part of hockey. If Weight gets punished for that hit, where do you draw the line? Should everyone get punished when injuries happen on accident?

The hit on Cole was inexcusable. But the reaction by Jim Rutherford in regards to this hit was wrong. He cited the perfectly clean hit on Matt Cullen by Colton Orr. This is again an example of players having to play with their heads up. Ironically, I was at that game too. After the Rangers received a 5 minute major for interference (WHAT?! 5 minutes for WHAT? I was beyond POed, I can tell you) the league reviewed the play and called it clean (as all the Ranger fans at MSG knew, to our dismay watching our team go down a player for 5 minutes because Cullen had poor on-ice awareness).

Again, Cullen was a Ranger. I like the guy. I wish no harm to him. But if these hits are OK, where do we draw the line?

It starts in elementary hockey when you tell guys to keep their heads up at all times.

By no means am I saying it's OK to head hunt or to hit people in the head. But these aren't head hunting examples, these are examples of players not paying attention around them, and I don't think it's fair to punish a clean check-er because the check-ee wasn't with it.