“Hockey and Headhunting”
The NHL playoffs are on us, and so is the raging debate.
Back in the day, the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs were about being a bully.
The Broad Street Bullies, the Flyers, rumbled their ways to raise the Cup. And there was the era of the Big Bad-Bruins.
Of course we had the legendary run of LeBleu-Blanc-Rouge, the Montreal Canadiens.
And Gretzky and the Great Ones around him with the Edmonton Oilers.
Brawling is pretty much gone in the NHL. You don’t need policeman now on the ice, you need hockey players who can fly.
The fighting has disappeared, but what has reared its ugly head now are head shots, in the most important time of the year..
Over the last group of years we have seen brutal hits. An open ice Scott Stevens blast that concussed the Ducks Paul Kariya, and virtually led to his retirement.
Kris Draper of Detroit was checked head first into the boards, in what could have become a broken neck.
Nathan Horton of Toronto, his career over by a neck injury on a pulverizing hit.
And now Sidney Crosby, the superstar artist of the Penguins, out for likely the rest of the playoffs with another concussion.
Some called it a bang-bang play, when he was pushed thru the crease, into oncoming Washington defenseman Matt Niskanen. As Crosby fell foward, Niskanen’s hockey stick caught him on the jaw, with the suddeness of a car crash-head on.
Player goes down, does not move, and when he does, you can see in his eyes he is badly hurt.
A 5-minute major for the injurious hit, but no fine nor suspension in the aftermath in the NHL league office probe.
The You Tube video gives you lots of angles. How quick the play developed. How Crosby was pushed into the contact. How player head and stick arrive at the same time at that spot. How the Washington player seemed to flick his arm putting power behind his stick.
It does beg the question, in the post-season, is there a different set of rules, on hitting? Play on rather than whistle a major penalty..
It begs the question also, do you play the puck, or play the man? Take over the puck, or takeout the other team’s star?.
There doesn’t seem to be much on video that shows intent, but there have been so many crushing checks in the first and second round of these playoffs, you wonder if the NHL needs to do more, for the crushing blows seem greater now, at the most important time of the season. .
Putting policeman back on the ice doesn’t help. Putting teeth into sanctions for players, who hurt players, is really the right road to travel.
Sidney Crosby’s road is ‘dark’ right now. This superstar has now had 5-concussions, and has missed (117) career games in Pittsburgh.
Hockey and head hunting. More needs to be done about this. NHL are you listening, watching, caring?