By M-A Breault – Knowing full well that it won’t be unanimous, here is my honest take on what’s been going on in the NHL for several years.
As we see too often, the blows to the head and sometimes hits from behind are always present. These are mostly unnecessary hits that can hurt the opponent and most of the time does not even result in recovery of the puck. These are gestures made to hurt the opponent quite simply. It has been a part of hockey for too long. Certainly some shots are not for the purpose of hitting the head, but this is the result that occurs for a lot of reasons. The main one is that the player applying the check is doing it to hurt. We can read or hear some
smart people say that it is up to the player to protect themselves better. So that means players should walk around on the ice and look back and forward at the same time and always look around before picking up a puck. Some of those people said that instantly about Jake Evans in the playoffs last season.
I don’t know of any site with this kind of hit, so I won’t be able to tell you if there are many more of this kind of hit or not. Those in favour of fighting try to make us believe that this kind of blow would happen less often if there were more “goons” on the teams because they would sort it out the good old fashioned way. So there would be fewer cheap hits but more brawls, which are as dangerous if not more than the hit given? It is an unstoppable logic. I don’t believe it for a second. I understand the principle, but at the same time we are not solving the problem either. The Tom Wilsons of this world who don’t give a damn about the big tough guy on the other team wanting to fix this the old way, are going to keep doing whatever they want.
In my opinion, there is only one solution and it is for the league to act. It could give the referees more power to act immediately. That the four referees on the ice can act in case of cheap or dirty hits. Whether the penalty is called immediately or after a meeting between them during the next stoppage of play, as long as the penalty that should be given on the ice is called. Second, the league could act more severely. They could stop handing out absolutely ridiculous $5,000 fines and get tough on giving two-game minimum suspensions for those kinds of shots. They could also be more severe with repeat offenders. At the same time, the problem will likely still be present as long as the hockey mentality remains of “hit and kill”. Imagine playing clean and checking to get the puck instead of trying to kill someone.
Secondly, here is an idea that will certainly spark debate. Let the referees call the penalties according to the rule book. I am one hundred percent convinced that referees have instructions from their superiors to allow certain penalties to pass. A player trying to retrieve the puck in the offensive zone, having to fight through two players to get there is unacceptable. That kind of are “legal” interference, players perform as early as the U-15 elite bantam level.
Crosschecks are now more watched this season, but there is still some way to go. What I am suggesting is that the referees can call the penalties as written in the rule book. Certainly, the first few years would see more infractions being called. But just like it was done with the hooking and slashing on the hands, players will adapt and they will be able to express themselves more freely on the ice. Imagine talented players having more time to make good plays instead of thinking about what might happen because of the clowns who think it’s UFC more than hockey.
To the violence hockey purists, I’m sorry but I see from a better eye letting players play hockey instead of getting hit for nothing. We would have a better show from talented players. I still believe that there is a way to give a bodycheck without demolishing your enemy at any cost. If the league wants more goals, let the players play and bring back the full penalties. You have 2 minutes, serve it all. Your team gets scored 2-3 goals, that’s going to teach you a lesson.
Have a good end of the season! Go Habs Go!