Sometimes, Somebody Just Get’s It Right.

On todays HockeyCentral at noon, Mike Brophy did the best job of putting my thoughts to words.

Hits to the head, and predatory hitting.

This is a major issue, and trust me, I’m no shrinking violet who doesn’t enjoy the physical side of the game, but I’m also not a blood lust kinda guy who finds any enjoyment, whatsoever, in seeing a player laid out in a predatory hit, and leaving the ice on a stretcher.  I love this GAME.  I don’t love the idea of a person suffering a life long injury for no good reason, and least of all for my entertainment.

Some argue, and fairly, that every player who skates onto the ice knows the risk they’re taking, and in going over the boards, accept this risk.

Fair enough…but to a point.

I know, when I drive my car, I could get into an accident, where the other driver, or myself, did not do anything purposely wrong to cause the accident.  I know this could cause my death, or a life long injury.  I drive every day.

But I don’t expect somebody to T-bone me, if I run a red light by accident, because they can.  Honestly, if they sped up, knowing I was running the red, so they could hit me, for whatever reason, they’d, legally, still be in the clear (unless I could prove their intent, which I can’t).

This is the same for a player who makes a predatory hit.  They know they can, they know it would be impossible to prove they meant to hurt the player, and so they get away with a “clean-hit”.

But, it wasn’t clean.  We ALL know that.

In all likelihood, that hit could have been made, in such a way as to remove the player from the puck, and probably even make a good “show”, without running them over.

So what’s to stop a player from making the hit to hurt vs. the hit to both win, and entertain?  Seeing a player hurt is NOT entertaining.  It’s sickening.

I can tell you honestly, if a player was “hit to hurt” every game, resulting in a stretcher evac…I’d quit watching, and I’m a guy who loves the UFC.

So, how do we deal with this?

One way is the OHL way, where by, after the recent predatory hit on a player, D. Branch suspended the offending player for a year.  Now, that’s heavy handed, but here’s what Broph had to say about it, and I agree completely;

“It’s a tough one (the suspension), and I feel very, very bad for Mike Liambas (the hitter) because , as I said to David Branch (OHL Commish.) when I spoke to him yesterday, I was working the night of the hit, and we all got ‘hey, did you hear what happened in an OHL game?’, and we went over (to review the hit)…I’ve seen way worse hits…(goes on to tell some stories of past hits in the OHL).  At the end of the day, here’s where I go with this one, the game has changed.  Because they’ve (the OHL) opened the game up, they don’t allow players to hook and hold, so you can’t hold guys up anymore.  Players need a reason, they need a reason to stop, for one split second and think about what they’re doing on the ice, and now they have that reason. Micheal Liambas, unfortunately, you can call him a scapegoat, or whatever, but players now have a reason to stop and think before they hit a player who’s in a vulnerable position, and as I say, this is not the worst thing I’ve ever seen, obviously the result of the hit was horrible, with this young man lying in a hospital today…That’s what David Branch has done, he’s given players a reason to stop and think before they act…it blows my mind when you see players who are vulnerable, and players attack…they’re only doing what they’re instructed to do by their coaches,’take your man out, and take him out hard’.  But now they have a reason to stop and think about how hard they’re going to take a guy out, it could cost you a season”

Yeah, some will say it’s a slippery slope, but c’mon, this is life and death were talking about, and there’s nothing slippery about that.

The laws of cause and effect dictate that you cannot remove one aspect of the game, without there being some result. Sure, the reason was to improve the skill, and increase scoring opportunities, all laudable objectives, but, unforeseeable, it has created this other issue, and it’s about time the NHL acknowledges the reality of the situation, and acts in a responsible manner to mitigate this new risk. Undoubtedly the players need to do the same, and behave with more concern for the safety of each-other, and by default, themselves, but as long as the NHL allows it, the management will demand it, and a multi-million dollar lifestyle is one hell of a motivation to do what you’re told to do.



5 Responses to “Sometimes, Somebody Just Get’s It Right.”

  1. I agree, enough is enough!

  2. Woozle man Says:

    Definitely. Hits to the head, and hits against players in vulnerable positions don’t do anything for the game of hockey except make it more dangerous. Players are faster than ever, and these hits are dangerous.

    I think the league should listen to Ken Dryden’s p.o.v on this one, and try to discourage ‘finishing a check’. What does it do but allow a hit in a position where a player has already played the puck and is now following the play? You don’t get to finish a check you started if by the time you get to the opposing player the puck is long gone. The most egregious example is Dale Hunter’s hit on Pierre Turgeon in the playoffs about 15 years back. Call it interference, and call hits to the head a major penalty. The Booth hit was late, as he had already passed the puck long ago. It was also a hit to the head.

  3. Might I suggest you guys let the NHL know how you feel?

  4. I am not but what I am Says:

    It’s easy to say it has to stop, but tough to implement because of so many variables – players are trained to hit and hit hard. A guy is booking it hard around the net and knows the opponent is coming the other side and he’s lined him up and braced for a clean shoulder hit but ends up nailing him so that his head hits the glass. Given the time involved (speed of his skating) how does he make the judgement call to slow down a bit or lead with the hip a little? Not much time to compute a possible bad consequence.

    I think this is a case where they are making an example to send a message. It’s gonna be mixed, because players are trying to impress with a physical style of play, are they gonna be judged on their ability or inability to assess a potentially harmful hit, make the adjustment to soften the blow and hit lightly? See a new scouting attribute: “Full Marks – he could have destroyed him there but he recognized it and let up but still took the guy out of the play. ” Gentlemanly and effective.

    Bottom line, each play needs to be reviewed on a case by case basis. In this case an overager annihilated a 16 yo on a wicked yet fairly clean hit.

    Of course the hitter likely didn’t ask for ID before delivering the hit. (he saw the jersey colour only and recognized the need to check). Had another overager been the victim, maybe the sentence is lighter. Make it right? Probably not, but life always isn’t right, nor fair.


  5. Hey MOP, no doubt what you say is true, but it could also be said that certain areas of the ice are dangerous, and as such, a player should know they are likely to be hitting an opponent when they are unaware of the on coming contact. Case in point, your behind the net analogy. This particular zone has been trgeted by predatory hitters, who use the oblique angle as a means of blindsiddng the dman or centre as he is retrieving the puck off of the boards. Because you cannot hold up forwards, the Dman/C cannot take the time to delay behind the net, he has to move forward and identify an outlet as quickly as possible. Look no further than Downey, Kaleta and Armstrong, they all key in on this circumstance.
    I would argue that, if the ref sees the checking forward accelrating into this zone, targeting that D/C from the blind side, then it is pretty obvious that the intention is to not simply stiffle the pass, or seperate the player from the puck, but to crush him.
    This differs from the head down blue-line hit. In this case, most frequently, the dman is moving laterally, or plants himself to use the forwards momentum against him, much like a hip check along the boards. A ref, in this situation, would have to identify if the checking Dman knew the player was unaware of the on coming check, and if so, still carried through with full impact vs rolling off.
    The thing is, these “game” checks happen all of the time, most players do not hit to hurt, it is only a very few players who make their living delivering predatory hits, one of whom is Neil, albeit less so than many others (Kaleta, Ott, among others). All players know how to make an effective, yet safe open ice hit, but some fail to show restraint, and instead use the opportunity ti hit ot injure.
    In order for me to buy your premise, I would have to believe that players do not mean to hit as hard as they do, it’s all an accident, an unavoidable outcome of the game.
    I don’t believe that.

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