05 June 2007
GMs discuss blows-to-head rules at summit
Unluckily for me, TiVo.com didn't record the game for me, so I only caught the last 12 minutes of the game. This means I didn't see any of the above hot topics du jour, meaning I am free to discuss this article.
I am pro-player safety all the way. I feel that it's the NHL's, and any employers for that matter, #1 responsibility to make their workers as safe as possible. Hockey is a dangerous game and injuries will happen, but the league needs to do everything it can to keep the players as safe as possible. No this doesn't mean taking hitting and fighting out of the game, this isn't ice dancing, but there need to be rules that protect the players as best as possible. This means not listening to players sometimes (remember players didn't want to wear HELMETS for a long time, good god was that a dumb idea.)
Blows to the head need to be gone for good. I realize there's a certain nostalga about old school hockey where players used to get knocked unconscious and then comes back to the game. But multiple concussions lead to serious brain damage, and are now being linked to depression, bi-polar disorder and a host of other psychological damage, as well as the increased likelyhood that we'll see a player paralyzed from a cheap shot. When Paul Kariya scored his goal a few years ago after being knocked out by Scott Stevens all I could think of was "good god what's he doing on the ice"
(DISCLAIMER: I have had multiple family members, including my mother, work at Craig Hospital in Englewood, CO. This is a hospital that directly deals with Parapalegics, Quadrapeligics, and other spine/head injuries. They are pretty famous for this type of treatment. They recently made the news by treating the bouncer who was paralyzed after he got shot in the PAC-MAN Jones "Making-it-rain" fiasco. They have also treated Chase Utley, and Dennis Byrd two NFL players paralyzed in games as well as multiple other famous head injuries.
I have been to the hospital multiple times and have seen many many people who cannot use their arms and legs properly. It is a sad and sombering experience and I wouldn't wish that kind of punishment onto anyone. There are things worse than death, and having to control every movement with a mouth hose pretty much qualifies for that in my mind. This is a great hospital who helps these unfortunate souls lead a productive fulfilling life, but it's still a very sad sight to see. So now you know why I spend such a large portion of my blog advocating taking these shots out of the game.)
So yeah I have no tolerance, none, for head shots. Every one is a potential to do some serious damage. I am glad the GM's are addressing it, but it's unfortunate that it took a cheap-shot in game 3 for it to be brought up. Head shots should be an automatic suspension. I realize soemtimes a player will be lazy and bend over and put his head at shoulder level and get leveled in the head... That's not suspendable. But Pronger's hit on Holmstrom, and his hit on McAmmond need to be punished severely. Also Neils hit on McDonald (which I didn't see, but pretty much everyone agrees was an elbow to the head) needs to be taken out too.
That's why I get so angry when people like Brian Burke, who has a keen eye for talent, but seems to think the health and saftey of players is a luxury, not a necessity, say crap like this:
After watching video of Neil's hit on Drury, Burke said: "It was an excellent hit. We can't take that hit out of our game. ... That's a North American NHL hit."No it wasn't an excellent hit. It was debatable whether Neil really trying to hit Drury in the head, or whether Drury lowered his head at the wrong moment. But it's not an excellent hit, it's a dangerous one. Whether it should be punishment is open for debate, but any hit that results in a concussion, no matter how clean, is not an excellent hit.
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