Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 03/01/12 at 07:50 PM ET
from Stu Hackel of the Red Light,
Hockey players have been taught for decades upon decades that in defensive situations, it’s more effective to play the man and not the puck, and the rules are written to reflect that, including ones that permit players to be bodychecked even after they have gotten rid of the puck. The whole notion of finishing a check is predicated on that being allowable under the rules.
And because the NHL believes body contact is one of the most highly appealing aspects of the game for its fans, it is loath to curtail it. Every step of the campaign against hits that cause concussions has been met with resistance from those who claim that prohibiting certain sorts of hits will take all of them out of the game, turning it into less appealing non-contact sport. They have been proven wrong, of course, as the game has certainly survived Rule 48, both in its first very limited incarnation of banning blindside and lateral hits to the head and with this year’s more restrictive “targeting” standard.
The Nystrom hit on Letang is perhaps the next frontier of where Rule 48 might go. It’s not going to be as easy to figure this one out, and proponents of the zero-tolerance standard are likely to claim that the rules in use in some junior leagues (both in Canada and the US), the IIHF, and the NCAA are the logical next step. Perhaps they are right.
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