Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Can We Move On Now?

Now it's dominating my damn blog.

So, thankfully for all of you, this will be the last time I wade in on the "head shot" obsession that has taken over the NHL.

Actually, I don't have much to say that wasn't addressed in my last post other than that I concede defeat. There is no more debate because 99.9 percent agree that something has to be done and the NHL has finally buckled under the pressure. Maybe now we can collectively talk about something else.... anything else... perhaps even...!

The league has issued an ambiguous statement regarding a rule change that seems completely open to interpretation, meaning that it could start us on the road to a far less physical brand of hockey or just keep the status quo, which consists of bizarre and unpredictable judgements by Colin Campbell, an official who should have been replaced about a decade ago after not suspending Tie Domi when he beat the crap out of a fan who fell into the penalty box in Philly (Domi got a fine!).

It doesn't seem to make clear what a "blindside" hit really means. Does it mean that you can only hit a player who is aware he is going to be hit? If the player has his head down and gets hit in the head with a shoulder by someone in front of him, is that a blindside hit? If so, doesn't that make the player virtually unhittable? Does he have to be tripped to be stopped? No one can say they know one way or the other because the league hasn't defined what they mean by a blindside hit. EDIT: Campbell is quoted as saying this about direct hits which, thankfully, seems to clear up some of my biggest worries regarding the new rule (per TSN):

"We felt there is a degree of responsibility - moreso to the player receiving the hit - when a guy's coming straight at you. But it's that blindside hit that we find is so disturbing and it's tough to protect yourself in our game, with the speed," said NHL senior vice president of hockey operations Colin Campbell.

Regardless of my ideas going the way of the dinosaur, I felt it was important to at least offer a contrary dialogue in the face of an almost across the board desire to scrub the game clean so the casual post-lockout fan can enjoy his two minutes of NHL highlight viewing a night without being exposed to anything likely to keep his attention or cause him or her to Twitter in disgust.

I don't think there has ever been anyone who likes to see a player hurt. We all want to see the really over the top dirty hits out of the league. My problem was that there was potential to throw the "baby out with the bathwater". Not to mention the overblown media hype that drowned out all other discussion.

But now the skirmish is over and "fans" can go back to their favourite pastime of bashing players for being so rich and lazy.

Following up on the Greg Wyshinski quote in the last post, here's another by your favourite player that I feel raises some interesting points.

Chris Pronger of the Flyers:

“Some of the [hits] near the boards probably could be addressed, but open ice hits are hard. Both players are going at such a speed that it’s difficult to readjust. If a player moves one way you might get him in the head, and if he moves another way you might get him in the shoulder. Or, sometimes you miss him and you see knees-on-knees.

So, you’re going to let up when a guy has his head down, so then he beats you to the net and scores a goal in a big playoff game or a crucial game towards the tail end of the regular season? Then, you’re getting critiqued by the media and the fans: why didn’t you hit him?

It’s a lose-lose if a player lets up on somebody and something bad happens against his team like a goal or penalty. You’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t. It’s a fine line. I haven’t seen the rule and I don’t know what they want to institute, but any rule is going to have its ups and its downsides.”


Anonymous said...

I find it hard to take anything that Chris Pronger says seriously. He's widely regarded to be a dirty player.

Most reports that I've read or seen on the various sports networks, say that the players have been in favour of doing something about headshots.

So now, a dirty player like Pronger says, "It's a fine line"? For him, it is.

Not for the rest.

Jeremy Milks said...

Pronger is also widely regarded to be the one of the top 5 defenseman of his generation and is a Stanley Cup winner. Like him or not, what he says carries weight.

albanada said...


After reading your last post, I really like your argument and agree that, for the sake of debate, it's fine to put a contrary argument in. Now, I may sound like the old ass himself, Don Cherry, but if blindside hits will be banned, than the league should regulate no-touch icing.

The issue is very underestimated and it should be realized at least 40 percent of injuries in the NHL today are because of players going hard into the boards to ice the puck.

Sorry for straying off topic, but just had to throw my two cents in there.

Anonymous said...


It's anon @ 8:36pm. I agree that Pronger has been one of the best defencemen of his generation. He's also a Hart trophy winner, a Norris Trophy winner, and a future Hall of Famer.

He's got a nice collection of hardware. That being said, I don't think that his voice is as influential as you say it is. That's just the sense I get from watching the game on a regular basis. Just my opinion.

Gretzky, Lemieux, Crosby, Ovechkin, Yzerman, Shanahan, Iginla, Luongo, Messier. It just seems that when some players talk, the league listens. I've never got the sense that the decision makers care what Pronger thinks.

A lot of players are great players, but may not carry much influence. Roenick, Hull and Coffey come to mind.

Of course, there's no way of verifying this. It's just an opinion. Maybe Pronger is influential. I just don't see it.