Kukla's Korner

Kukla's Korner Hockey

Physical And At Times A Violent Sport

When I read that headline, I think of the game of football more than I do of the NHL.

Some people will claim our game has always been violent, yet I recall watching games in the 1960’s where the game was not as violent as it is today.

Players did not try to send a player into the third row while hitting their opposition along the boards, they took the player out of the play.

In the era gone by, there were more open ice hits, mostly delivered by hard hitting defensemen like Tim Horton, Elmer “Moose” Vasko and hip checks artists Bob Baun and Gary Bergman.

There were no useless scrums in front of the goal crease with players giving face-washes or crosschecks to the opposition and if one happened to crop up, the players dropped the gloves and settled it right then and there.

Want an example?  Watch game 1 and 2 highlights of the 1968 SCF between Montreal and St. Louis.  Notice the players taking their check out of the play, not out of the game, notice how many opportunities existed for a player to run the opposition, but they didn’t.

Call it respect, call it whatever you want, but modern day players should watch some of these games and then follow the example and play that way on the ice today.

Filed in: NHL Talk, | KK Hockey | Permalink


Hank1974's avatar

Couldn’t agree more Paul.
But I think the equipment has a lot to do with it.

If players today wore the same equipment used in 1968, I don’t think we see any of these crazy hits.
Shanahan said that with the old-school shoulder pads, you had to pick your shots. Because if you ran around like a missle the way todays players do, you’d separate your shoulder on a weekly basis.

What bothers me is I’m pretty sure the NHL can clean this up and fairly quickly.
Hand out suspensions that actually mean something and make sure all the equipment is meant for hockey, not gladiator battles.

Posted by Hank1974 on 01/20/11 at 12:11 PM ET

Andy from FightNight's avatar

That is true, but at the same time, if we read stories about Howe or the Rocket, we read writers go on nostalgically about Howe’s elbows and the Rocket’s slashes. The Broad Street Bullies also had some cheap tricks. But when remembering the past we talk about this with nostalgia, while if those things had been done today, there would have been outrage and calls for suspensions.

Posted by Andy from FightNight on 01/20/11 at 12:45 PM ET


Great take, Paul.

Posted by Patrick Hoffman from Fairfield, CT on 01/20/11 at 01:04 PM ET

SYF's avatar

But that’s not the NHL that Milbury remembers…


Posted by SYF from Twerkin' with Anastasia Ashley on 01/20/11 at 01:07 PM ET

Hank1974's avatar

Very true “Andy from FightNight”.

There were certainly some very dangerous plays in those eras concerning stick swinging and fighting.

But the hitting portion has never been more violent than it is today. Guys try to explode into each other. It’s no longer about separating someone from the puck; it’s about destroying the opponent.
Look at the recent Brown hit on Jovo. He could have just as easily lifted his stick, or hit him low to prevent him from coralling the puck.
Instead, he chose to drove his titanium shoulder pad into his jaw.

If you watch any local AAA bantam or Midget hockey, you can see that the kids today all do the same. They come up hard, into the face, on every hit.
The NHL needs to follow the OHL and ban all hits to the head regardless if they’re intentional or not.

Posted by Hank1974 on 01/20/11 at 01:11 PM ET

Evilpens's avatar

Guys Now a days try to Hurt guys instead of just knocking them off the puck. Ovechkin is the Guiltiest of them all as he does this Constantly, Jumping on every check.

It’s a Lack of respect for other people, But unfortunately that is how the world is now

Posted by Evilpens on 01/20/11 at 01:40 PM ET

Nathan's avatar

I don’t think it’s respect. The “old days” had plenty of situations where some nasty, nasty stuff happened.

I think it’s more about the stakes. Back then, the guys knew they were going home to the farm in Saskatchewan to earn their keep for half the year. Hockey was a big part of their lives, but it wasn’t the only thing.

Now, these guys are born and bred to play hockey professionally. From an early age when their talent becomes obvious, they condition and train and practice to get as big, strong, and fast as possible. And once they make it to the league, it’s their full-time job. They make millions, and with that comes a lot of expectations.

I don’t think most of the players mean to hurt each other. Sure, there are some dirty players, but there always have been. Stakes are just so high, guys are so big, strong, and fast, and they have to fight tooth-and-nail for everything.

Posted by Nathan from the scoresheet! on 01/20/11 at 01:54 PM ET

Tripwire32's avatar

IMO it relates to easy success breeds copy-cats. What I mean by this is that it takes skill to make an effective hip-check, and anymore, just taking a player out of the play is interference.
At one time there was Terrible Ted, Claude Lemieux or Esa Tinkenan the agitator that got under the opposing teams skin with a stick here, a glove there, or an errant elbow. Now, every team has multiple of these guys because successful teams have had them. Players have found they don’t really need to have skill to be an agitator and the teams have job for someone that is successful in that role.
At one time on the blue-line there was Eddie Shore, Scott Stevens, and the Vladinator: You needed to know when they were on the ice and keep your head up, otherwise you’d end up on your back. There was a level of fearless intimidation to their game and it contributed to making their team successful. Now most defenseman are expected to intimidate their opponents in the same way.
The predecessors created a model for success and all the players are attempting to copy that model because that is the job the teams are offering based on that model.

Posted by Tripwire32 from the binary digisphere on 01/20/11 at 01:58 PM ET


Nathan, I think you hit the nail on the head. The stakes are so high now that there is no limit on what a player will do. When a guy made littlel more than your local janitor you couldn’t expect him to lay it all on the line, it was a game after all. With the amounts of money players are making today, fans expect players to “earn” their pay check and players are all too willing to do whatever it takes to keep that paycheck coming.

Posted by hockey1919 from mid-atlantic on 01/20/11 at 03:51 PM ET

Rdwings28's avatar

Lidstrom fits right in 1968

Posted by Rdwings28 on 01/21/11 at 09:07 AM ET

Add a Comment

Please limit embedded image or media size to 575 pixels wide.

Add your own avatar by joining Kukla's Korner, or logging in and uploading one in your member control panel.

Captchas bug you? Join KK or log in and you won't have to bother.


Notify me of follow-up comments?


Most Recent Blog Posts

About Kukla's Korner Hockey

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.

From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.

Email Paul anytime at pk@kuklaskorner.com


Recommended Sportsbook