Home > Dumb People > On Headshots and Cheap Play

On Headshots and Cheap Play

The most important issue in the NHL right now is the lack of respect amongst players that leads to unnecessarily dangerous and reckless play. This is a regarded by many as a two-faced issue: on one hand, the safety of the players continues to be in jeopardy because of the league’s seeming inability to do anything to try and stem the flow of such play, and on the other hand, you have the purists and hardcore fans who don’t want the physical aspect of the game lessened. But there is a third side, as well: the overwhelming public perception.

You would think that in a country that craves violence as much as the Americans do, hockey violence would not be that big of a deal-especially when you look at some of the USA’s favorite sports. Football, where head trauma and dangerous play is a staple of the game, is the number one sport, at least money wise. MMA, the fastest growing sport in the country, routinely features competitors breaking bones or being knocked out cold while in the ring. Hits to the head in boxing cause much more then just migraines; look at Muhammad Ali. The figurehead of boxing for almost 50 years now has Parkinson’s, a neurological disease, resulting directly from the tactics he used to win matches. All of this tells me that it is not the violence in the game of hockey that is dissuading people from going to the rink, but rather it’s the treatment of such violence. The lack of a firm and non-negotiable outline for punishment dogs the game more then anything else. It would not be easy to come up with such a thing, but I’m going to take a shot at it now.

Hits to the Head

Any hit to the head that includes one of the following leads to an automatic 3 game suspension: 1. a blindside hit (one where the player does not see the impacting player coming either from the side or the back) 2. a hit to the head with anything other then a shoulder 3. a hit to the head where the player is unable to play in his team’s next game. If a hit fits two of the criteria, suspend him 5 games. If it fits all three, suspend him 10 games.  The base punishment should be a 4 minute powerplay and a game misconduct. If the player is unable to continue in the game, then bump it up to 5 minute major, a 10 minute misconduct and a game misconduct. The player who is suspended forfeits all salary from the games he misses.

Checking from Behind

Any contact to a player from behind, regardless of speed or proximity to the boards. “Mucking it up” in the corners or in puck battles would be permitted, granted that the offending player does not leave his feet or contact the defending player at speed. If an injury occurs as a result of a check from behind, a 2 minute minor and a 10 minute misconduct are assessed. If the player is unable to finish the game, a 4 minute double minor and a game misconduct are assessed. A suspension of 3 games is assessed if the player is unable to participate in his team’s next game, and 5 games if the hit is deemed malicious in intent.

If the player is a repeat offender (meaning, suspended once before for ANY infraction) then the suspension’s length is doubled. The point of making the punishments so large is that you want to dissuade the play that causes them. The reason plays like Matt Cooke’s hit on Marc Savard happen is because there is no punishment for them. In the rulebook, that hit is OK. But, if you want respect back in the game, you have to force it down the player’s throats. Do not let them off because of no prior record, because of intent, because of anything. The game is dangerous enough as it is.

(I focused on the American side of the league here because that is that is the market that has to grow, and ticket sales in Canada won’t suffer because of this. But when 80% of your league is in a country that largely does not care about hockey, you cannot afford to lose fans to situations such as this. In fact, the elimination of these situations will probably grow the fanbase. I also didn’t want to include the Olympics in this because of the great talent discrepancy and the scope of the prize in the Olympics being what it is.)

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Categories: Dumb People
  1. Arik
    March 17, 2010 at 6:13 pm

    Re: Americans
    The difference between the violence in hockey and MMA is that in hockey the violence isn’t the aim. Violence is the goal in MMA, in hockey it’s not necessarily obvious why it’s happening to a casual viewer. Same with football, when you tackle someone, the play ends. There not as many tackles on someone who’s not actively involved with the ball. You push and shove, but that’s about it for the most part, while in hockey you hit someone and things keep happening.

    • Justin Azevedo
      March 17, 2010 at 6:51 pm

      For MMA, that makes sense. But in hockey, when you hit someone who has the puck, more often then not he loses it, and the play starts again. In that sense, it’s like a turnover in football, only it is a seamless transition. The point is that the violence in football is comparable to the violence in hockey, at least in sense that it drives play.

  2. Arik
    March 17, 2010 at 10:42 pm

    But it’s not as abrupt, and it’s much more strict as far as what’s legal and what isn’t.

    Why the hell am I defending football?

  3. Justin Azevedo
    March 17, 2010 at 11:53 pm

    haha, I don’t know.

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