Kukla's Korner Hockey
by George Malik on 12/18/11 at 06:36 AM ET
This is downright baffling. Bobby Clarke was anything but a general manager who put his players’ health first during his tenure with the Philadelphia Flyers, but this morning, he suggests to Phillyburbs.com’s Wayne Fish that the NHL has only itself to blame for ridding itself of the hooks, holds and interference which Clarke believes prevented concussions, and worse, Clarke insinuates that the NHL’s two-referee system has taken vigilante justice out of the game to the point that the league is serving as its own—very ineffective—policeman:
“They told the players they had to ‘take the hit,” Clarke said. “The players could no longer get their elbow up or their stick up, they were just supposed to take the hit. At that time, the players could protect each other. They could block, they could hook, they were expected to protect each other. But then I think the two-referee system that Bettman brought in, I don’t think it was brought in to help the game. They were brought in to take away the ability of players to get even with each other. That leads to more reckless hitting and stuff. Because if you do that, the league becomes the judge, jury and executioner.’’
Then came more moves, not all of them favorable to players’ health.
“When the lockout was over, the red line came out and the things the players could do — if you saw someone coming you could hold him up, make him break his stride, that was all taken out of the game,’’ Clarke said. “So what you had was something akin to pond hockey abandon, only with boards and glass to mitigate that feeling of open ice.
“Now you have players of this size, plowing into each other, they can’t protect themselves,’’ Clarke said. “They can’t protect their teammates ... you just have to take it. When the red line came out, it sounded like a great idea. It was supposed to end the trap, but it didn’t. Players are on top of each other so fast. Some of these concussions happen at the red line. You can’t have players skating all over the place, running into each other with no resistance.’’
There are no easy answers, solutions.
“Suspensions are not a deterrent,’’ Clarke said. “Nowadays there are a lot more suspensions but it’s not going to stop the recklessness. When the game was allowed to be played, the players could figure things out, to protect themselves, so there weren’t these injuries. But when the league took over and wanted to control everything, now we have all these concussions.I think there have to be some questions asked by owners now.’’
Continued, and with all due respect, I think Bobby Clarke’s nuts.
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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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