Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 10/15/13 at 08:54 PM ET
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
You’ve had the sense that Shanahan is trying to send a clear signal to players this year about hits to the head. After a suspension-filled preseason that saw, among others, Vancouver Canucks’ Zack Kassian banned for eight games, five of them in the regular season, Shanahan had already suspended two other far more skilled players for three-game bans.
The San Jose Sharks’ Brad Stuart got his for a hit to the head of the New York Rangers’ Rick Nash which has sidelined Nash ever since. Also the Kassian‘s teammate Alex Edler received three games for a head check on the San Jose Sharks’ rookie sensation Tomas Hertl. Shanahan went to great lengths explain why the suspensions were levied against players not normally thought of as particularly dirty.
Eventually, it all boils down to one salient point – in the same way that NHL players are responsible for controlling their sticks, they’re now also obliged to be wary of connecting with an opposing player’s chin. Deliberate or not, it doesn’t matter. The onus is on the hitter to make a proper and legal hit. The old defences – but I didn’t mean it – don’t hold water anymore because, thankfully, concussion awareness is on the rise.
But three games amounts to only a week away and no one ever changed their behaviour patterns because of a seven-day absence. It is only when suspensions of memorable lengths and durations occur that players do sit up and notice. In Kaleta’s case, he should be down to his final life line. If he can’t clean up his game the way Matt Cooke, Steve Downie, Brad Marchand and others have, then he doesn’t belong in the NHL.
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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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