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Blog Entry

Taking the first step

Posted on: March 10, 2010 3:38 pm
 

BOCA RATON, Fla. – The message to headhunters around the NHL was as clear as it gets from the general managers:  your time is running short.

“Good,” said  Brian Burke of the Toronto Maple Leafs after he and his colleagues unanimously agreed to recommend a new rule that would outlaw blows to the head that were previously deemed legal.  “If it’s a predatory act, if it’s a case of this is how a guy makes a living, then he should be doing something else.”

By next season players perpetrating those kinds of acts may in fact be doing something else, if the decision by the general managers on the final day of their meetings here is supported by the competition committee next summer and then ratified by the board of governors. Bet on that happening though because the GMs spent the majority of their time here dealing with what has become the hot-button issue around the league this season and a concern for everyone involved.

 “This is something that impacts all of us and something we need to rid ourselves of for the greater good of the game,” said Florida Panthers GM Randy Sexton. “Hockey is a physical game and we want to maintain it but we want clean physical play and clearly the types of hits we’re targeting do not fall into that category.”

That’s because the players don’t see them coming.  And Sexton knows that better than most because one of his star players – David Booth – was blindsided by a shoulder to the head from Philadelphia’s Mike Richards earlier this season. The hit was technically legal, but it caused the Panthers player to miss 45 games with a concussion and it provided the impetus for the action that would have been given little more than lip service by general managers in years past.

“Things have changed,” said Boston Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli.

No doubt the pressure to do something here became even more intense after Pittsburgh’s Matt Cooke left Boston’s Marc Savard concussed with a blindside hit a day before the meetings began, but clearly the GMs had a meeting of minds, proposing a new rule that would not permit “a lateral, back pressure or blindside hit to an opponent where the head is targeted and/or the principal point of contact.”  Doing so would result in a minor or a major penalty and more important a review for possible supplemental discipline, something the GMs felt would be the key to reducing the danger caused by those types of hits.

Even the so-called hardliners among the GMs, those who were most reluctant to do anything that might negatively impact the hitting in the game, felt this move was worthy of support.  The consensus was that the rule changes since the lockout have made it necessary to adapt because the game has gotten faster with the elimination of the center red line and obstruction as a method of impeding on-rushing players.

 “We’ve come a long way,” New Jersey’s Lou Lamoriello said. “We’re adjusting now because some of our rules have allowed some of this to happen.

“The game has changed and when change takes place, other things come about that you have to deal with accordingly.  But you never lose sight of what the game is all about. We’re concerned about the players but we are concerned about keeping the fabric of our game intact and this addresses our concerns.”

As long as everyone understands the new philosophy that is which is why what seems like such a no-brainer rule cannot take effect before next season. NHL director of hockey operations Colin Campbell  said it would be too complicated to do something at the three-quarter mark of the schedule because it would require time to educate players and referees and to determine in what instances a two-minute or five-minute penalty should be assessed.

“We’re taking what was a completely legal hit with the shoulder and making it illegal if it hits the head, and there’s a process involved in doing something like this,” Campbell said. “We’ve never done anything historically after the start of the season.”

The general managers did make one other significant recommendation for the competition committee on the subject of tie-breakers.  As it stands now, win totals are the first method of separating teams tied in the standings, but those numbers included victories gained in shootout. The GMs want to put give more weight to  those wins gained in regulation or overtime than those coming from a skills competition.
Category: NHL
Comments

Since: Jul 28, 2008
Posted on: March 12, 2010 3:05 pm
 

Taking the first step

There is a difference between clean and dirty hits, between something legal and something illegal.  You can't rightly punish someone for doing something legal, even if there are unintended consequences (e.g., injury).  Cooke wasn't suspended for this hit because, while the hit was hard and the head was probably deliberately targeted, it was legal.  Rules in the NHL, just like most laws, operate only prospectively.  That is, you can't violate a rule until it is a rule, and you can't be punished for an action that doesn't violate a rule.



Since: Nov 23, 2006
Posted on: March 11, 2010 3:05 pm
 

Taking the first step

I'm right with you on that one. Not one player should be allowed to continue playing until restitution is made for a gutless act like that one. I still don't understand why this player is allowed in the league and why owners go ga-ga after someone like Todd. What he did will always be baggage on his resume. He should thank god every day that Moore did not die on the ice that day. Every hear of Wayne Mackey? Ask Teddy Green. Violence has no place in any sport.



Since: Nov 23, 2006
Posted on: March 11, 2010 2:59 pm
 

Taking the first step

This can all end with the Commishioner. Now that the NHL was showcased to the world for two weeks, here we are right back where we started from. With a show of hands, how many can point to all the fights there were in the Olympics? That's right! Zero! Yup- what is it that the gods that be will not tolerate in the Olympics that the NHL puts up with every season? What will it take to ensure the safety of each and every player and put a great game on every night? It can all start with the rat, Gary B.   Do you see fighting in College? No. Do you see fighting in Youth Hockey? ? Se  where I'm going here? Until something is done, there will be crap like what happened to Marc Savard and anyone else who gets blind sided from behind. Is this game better for it because of non-enforcement? A suspension should've been handed out. And you wonder why no one watches this sport. Go Figure.



Since: Mar 4, 2009
Posted on: March 11, 2010 2:48 pm
 

Taking the first step

This rule should have been put in place when Steve Moore got pummeled by Todd "Jackass" Bertuzzi.  I have a complete dislike for that punk ever since then.  I was miffed when they let that guy back in... and all of you who say he missed a lot of games, just remember so did the rest of the league as all of that was right before the strike and they all missed a year.  He should have been banned for life.  So should this guy who hit Savard. 

Come on NHL, get your head out of your old keesters and start making rules to protect the players from cheapshots.  Play the game like it is supposed be played. 



Since: Mar 19, 2009
Posted on: March 11, 2010 1:52 pm
 

Why wait to next year???

 "NHL director of hockey operations Colin Campbell  said it would be too complicated to do something at the three-quarter mark of the schedule because it would require time to educate players and referees and to determine in what instances a two-minute or five-minute penalty should be assessed."

Too complicated?  Are you serious M. Campbell?  Let me simplify things for you...If a player blindsides another player in the head with any part of his anatamy ie. shoulder, elbow - it is an automatic 5 min major penalty, a game misconduct and the player is under review for possible further action which could include fine and/or suspension.  It's really not that hard to address the seriousness of the issue clearly and ensure everyone is aware.  Tell the players to knock it off and tell the refs to keep their eyes open.  Send a memo.

The decision to do something is a no brainer but it still took the powers that be too long to act.  Why wait and risk losing a Crosby, Toews, Ovie or another superstar to a cheap shot?  Institute the new rule now!



Since: May 12, 2009
Posted on: March 11, 2010 12:27 pm
 

Taking the first step

Picvegita,
 I have to commend you on your honesty and for not being a homer. I am a life long Bruins fan and I can not believe that that hit was reviewed by the league and there was still no punishment handed down. anybody who has seen it whether they know the game of hockey or not could tell that was a cheap hit.
You see these things from time to time and I will admit, I ususally don't care. But being a Bruins and a Savard fan, this incident has opened my eyes to te impact these cheap shots can have on a teams chances. I am not saying the Bruins are the best this year and they have infact struggled through this season mostly due to bad trades and injuries. But a guy like Savard is someone they can not afford to lose for the year to a cheap hit like that.

Respect my friend!



Since: May 12, 2009
Posted on: March 11, 2010 12:24 pm
 

Taking the first step

Picvegita,
 I have to commend you on your honesty and for not being a homer. I am a life long Bruins fan and I can not believe that that hit was reviewed by the league and there was still no punishment handed down. anybody who has seen it whether they know the game of hockey or not could tell that was a cheap hit.
You see these things from time to time and I will admit, I ususally don't care. But being a Bruins and a Savard fan, this incident has opened my eyes to te impact these cheap shots can have on a teams chances. I am not saying the Bruins are the best this year and they have infact struggled through this season mostly due to bad trades and injuries. But a guy like Savard is someone they can not afford to lose for the year to a cheap hit like that.

Respect my friend!



Since: Mar 11, 2010
Posted on: March 11, 2010 11:42 am
 

Taking the first step

I've been playing hockey all my life, and Cooke didn't have to throw his shoulder into Savards head. He could have just as easily gone shoulder to shoulder with him.  I understand Savard left himself wide open to be run over, but the whole concept of BODY CHECKING is to eliminate the player who maintains possession of the puck from the play. If he had not been going for shock value, he would have, as many players do, gone shoulder to shoulder with Savard.  This still would have been a huge hit, which i'm a fan of, but the fact that he made ZERO contact with the players body should fall under the intent to injure policy of the NHL. Hypotheitically, if Cooke blindslided Savard and his stick came in contact with Savards head, it comes with an automatic game misconduct along with a manditory 5 game suspension, along with possible further disciplinary action. There is no doubt hockey wouldn't be hockey without checking, but if this kind of stuff keeps happening, it's going to be tough for the NHL to compete with faster, skill oriented leagues such as the KHL and those endorsed by the IIHF.



Since: May 7, 2008
Posted on: March 11, 2010 11:26 am
 

Taking the first step

How can you suspend someone that did the exact same thing that another player did earlier this season?  The hit isn't against the rules at this time.  How are you supposed to suspend a player that was just playing the game under the rules that the NHL itself made?  I think it should be a rule and therefore a suspension and as noted in this article, it will be a penalty next year.  I think it is stupid to wait untill next year for this rule to take affect, but there is simply no way to punish Cooke since it was a legal hit, as was Richard's hit, under the current rules.  It was a dirty hit that has no place in the game and the NHL is taking baby steps to take it out of the game.  It makes perfect sense that Cooke wasn't suspended, but what makes no sense at all is the fact that hits like this aren't already in the rule book as a penalty.




Since: Aug 21, 2006
Posted on: March 11, 2010 11:07 am
 

Taking the first step

How the hell did cooke not get suspended for that hit. It just makes no sense at all...


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