by Mike Chen on 10/28/08 at 02:15 PM ET
Is there anyone out there that actively supports hits to the head? Bueller? Bueller?
I don’t think anyone wants to see what happened to Brandon Sutter, and I’m constantly surprised at the fact that every time this happens, the NHLPA does nothing—you’d think the safety of their players would truly be their primary concern. I’ve often been in favor of penalizing hits to the head—it’s not exactly a new concept in hockey, after all, and the stuff that can happen later in life due to concussions is downright frightening. However, the execution of such a rule in the NHL is the subject of endless debate.
There’s a valid argument about the position Sutter was in when Doug Weight ran him over. With that in mind, here’s an attempt at a compromise rule:
-Any shoulder impact on a player’s head is a two-minute penalty
-Any elbow impact on a player’s head is a four-minute penalty (two minutes for elbowing, two minutes for hit to the head)
-Similar to the “Was it a distinct kicking motion?” rule, a judgment-call exception can be made by the referee when a player is in such a position that his head is lower than the top of his shoulders. Basically, don’t hunch over with your head down—got it?
It’s not exactly black-and-white but it’s pretty darn close. It also requires a little bit of split-second judgment by the refs, which is never an easy thing. However, if this is executed properly, I think it’s a reasonable way to try and integrate a preventative into the game while not catering to stupidity. In other words, if you’re hunched over admiring your nifty stickhandling work, you’re still fair game.
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