The Malik Report
by George Malik on 03/11/12 at 05:50 PM ET
I wrote this as a response to an article Paul posted, but I feel so passionatly pissed off about the issue that I’m gonna use my soapbox to say what I feel about the ridiculous levels of obstruction and otherwise uncalled infractions that the NHL has clearly told its referees to ignore in advance of a set of GM’s meetings on Monday and Tuesday where the gentlemen in charge of the game want to reintroduce the red line to supposedly reintroduce creativity, back the trap up twenty feet and prevent concussions:
It seems rather obvious to me that the NHL’s already tossed out a mandate to, “Slow down the game to make it safer” via allowing everything but horizontal stick fouls and the, “If he falls, it’s a call” penalties, but the refs are letting far more than the grabs, gropes, wrestling, football tackling and the kinds of moving and stationary picks that literally prevent players from getting to the puck or separate puck carriers from scoring chances by any means—we’re seeing just as much, if not more players lining their opponents up for vicious collisions via you-stop-him-I’ll-rail-him plays (see: Mike Green) and some absolutely ridiculous hacks and whacks to hands, wrists and ankles, dangerous trips, slew-foots, kneeing, butt-ending, boarding, etc., all of that crap is being let go to “protect” the players.
To spare the players’ heads, the league’s told its referees to allow everything else go, and the stupid irony thereof is that as long as players continue to skate into collisions at full speed—which will never change regardless of whether there’s a red line in play or whether obstruction and everything but the stupidest ticky-tack fouls are allowed, because players are still “finishing” their opponents and are charging into checks because charging was all but eliminated from the rulebook a long time ago—and all these added bumps, pulls, tugs and especially hard checks into the boards are just as likely to cause a player’s brain to jostle around in his skull as collisions at high speed are because any lateral acceleration of the head means the possibility of head trauma.
It’s force equals mass times acceleration, not force equals mass times speed, and between hard shoulder and elbow pads, the size and strength of players and the fact that helmets are designed to prevent severely traumatic brain injuries and skull fractures, not concussions, and because guys getting popped in the chin, cheek, temple or even just getting bumped in ways which cause their heads to jerk back and forth in a violent manner, and that all those different ways of imparting lateral acceleration to the head can yield concussions just as easily as two players skating into each other at high speed…
All the NHL’s done by empowering its officials to call fewer penalties is to rob fans of scoring chances and rob fans of entertainment value by returning the game to the depths of its pre-lockout snoozefests as teams happily play defense, defense and more defense to drag games toward overtime and shootouts.
Not calling obstruction and allowing “playoff rules” levels of hacking, whacking and picking to occur during the regular season does nothing to improve player safety. It just decreases the amount of bang fans receive for their hard-earned bucks…
And preventing one kind of violent collision by encouraging all other sorts of vicious, injury-inducing violence is utterly, utterly stupid.
[edit/update: Wings GM Ken Holland spoke to USA Today’s Kevin Allen about the red line issue, and I think that in the age of digital video recorders and computer programs which can tag plays and produce highlight clips for coaches to study during intermissions—if not stoppages in play—he’s underestimating coaches’ resolve to break down the game:
“Everyone thought taking the red line out was the greatest thing since sliced bread, but coaches have now had seven years to figure it out,” Holland said. “You can put the red line back in, but in five to seven years, coaches are going to figure out that, too.”
I give them half a season, at most, to adjust and re-acclimate their players to a red line.[/end edit]
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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.