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Head Shots

Posted 9:45 AM ET | Comments 8
I was disgusted by hearing Steve Downie left his feet to hit Dean McAmmond, I was even more disgusted when I seen the hit on Sportscentre. Dean McAmmond skating behind the net, turning the corner to head up ice, some argue he had his head down, and Steve Downie charges across the ice, leaves his feet to take him out. McAmmond was turning the corner, weather or not he had his head down he was still in a bad spot, however that doesn't justify his actions or make it right. There is a difference to playing physical and head-hunting this heat was without a shadow of a doubt head-hunting. Downie had been hit by Schubert earlier in the shift and he wanted blood and he went out and decided to take out Dean McAmmond with one of the dirtiest hits I have seen. Downie's comments after the game were totally uncalled for, that wasn't finishing a check, he wasn't the least bit sorry he was similing about it while at the same time saying he was sorry. You don't try to make a team by head hunting, if you want to be a tough guy and prove yourself, be a man challenge another tough guy to a fight, don't take cheap shots at already established veterans and threaten there careers.

The league needs to acknowledge that it has a head hunting problem. As far as the NHL is concerned there is no problem with regards to head shots, yet most junior leagues have strict policy's on head shots, that right there should tell you that there is problem, if the leagues that develop players for the NHL acknowledge there is problem it is a good indication there is a problem, if it looks like duck, quacks like a duck, its a duck. Colin Campbell needs to realize that there is a problem and take appropriate action by suspending players who head-hunt. All to often we have seen players who have taken shots at players heads and not given a penalty or worse no suspension.

Past History shows that the NHL has a long history of Head shots, The league needs to pull its head out the sand and realize that there is a problem. The most famous hit that we have all probably seen numerous times, Scott Stevens hit on Eric Lindros in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals. At this point in time it was starting to become more and more evident that the NHL had a problem with head-shots. You can argue that it was clean, Lindros had his head down what ever you want, a clean hit shouldn't cause a guy to leave the ice on a stretcher. This wasn't the first time Scott Stevens had unleashed a hit like this, being one of the most feared hitters in the game, ending many players careers with similar hits.

Tie Domi's on Scott Niedermayer. Viscious run taken at Scott Niedermayer by Domi, in game 4 of the 2002 playoffs, this stemming from when Niedermayer clipped Domi with his stick in a previous game, and he wanted blood. Domi had his chance to get his shot at him late in Game 4, Domi came roaring in with his elbow up trying to take off Niedermayers head, doing just that. A deliberate attempt to injure, and this time the NHL actually got it right suspending Domi for the rest of the playoffs and the 1st 8 games off the 2002 season.

Cam Jansen's Hit on Thomas Kaberle. Jansen hit Kaberle with a cheap shot to the head well after the puck was up ice and Kaberle turned up ice to make a change, while admiring his pass, Jansen came roaring in and hit him late and cheaply, Kaberle layed on the ice motionless and was carted off on a stretcher, later diagnosed with a concussion. This resulting in a 3 game suspension.

Chris Pronger I don't think he needs much introduction often regarded as one of the dirtiest players in the game. He was suspended twice, in the 2007 playoffs for a head shot, thats right two (2) times in the same playoffs. The first was an elbow to the head of Thomas Holmstrom in Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals, this resulting in a 1 game suspension. The 2nd incident was in game 3 of the 2007 Stanley Cup Finals, in which Chris Pronger hit Dean McAmmond with an elbow in the head, once again receiving a 1 game suspension. A repeat offender that just receives a slap on the wrist typical NHL punishment.

I could go on and on with examples of hits to the head and the punishment that is handed down by the league, but I wont. What is clear is that there is a problem in the NHL with head-shots, if the league would pull its head out of the sand and realize that it has a problem that would go along way to preventing more injuries to the head. The main problem is that the NHL is very inconsistent in its suspensions if one is handed down at all. Time and time again we have seen players injured with intent and no penalty or suspension on the play at all. The NHL needs come down hard on hits to the head. Collin Campbell needs to start coming down on these hits to the head especially repeat offenders like Chris Pronger. The NHL needs to implement and harsh "3 strikes and your out" approach to dealing with head shots, to send a stern message to players that head shots are unacceptable.


TheStig
Filed Under:   Headshots   Flyers   Sens   Devils   Leafs   Wings   Pronger   NHL  
September 26, 2007 8:11 AM ET | Delete
Good thoughts Stig. Like what you have to say. I fully agree that Downie should get 10 games - whether he makes the Flyers roster or not. I also hope that, if he is suspended, that the NHL takes the same stance on ALL head shots - whether the person intent on injuring is a rookie trying to make a squad or a 15 year vet who has made a living out of playing on the edge (there are more than a few of them in the league). If the NHL is to gain the mainstream appeal that it so desperately seeks, then the cheap shots have to stop. They do nothing but undermine the integrity of a sport that is known for less than fair McSorley and Bertuzzi type hits. Is Downie's hit up there with those infamous moments in NHL history ? That is for you to decide. If you want to gain respect and clean up the league - hand out 10 game suspensions every time it happens. That will do it. BUT you must apply it evenly so that the league does not penalize some and turn a blind eye to others. My two cents... SYF
September 26, 2007 8:20 AM ET | Delete
Why the NHL hasn't acted on head shots is beyond me. Too busy making new uniforms, I guess.
September 26, 2007 8:26 AM ET | Delete
I had posted a comment earlier..don't know why it didn't come through. Nice blog Stig.I agree with you and I like the 3 strikes idea. Keep up the good work!
September 26, 2007 8:30 AM ET | Delete
for those of you who did not see the hit, heres the youtube link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=322zqTkL0-c . downie was coasting, but did leave his feet. im not sure if the hit should be considered a late hit since it was only seconds after him releasing the puck. what you cant deny is downie left his feet and led with the shoulder / elbow. as a flyers fan im upset about this and expect him to be getting something like a 10-20 game suspension (which should translate to AHL games too if he ends up on the phantoms). i also expect the ottawa tough guy mcgrattan to be seeing a small suspension too. the last thing you do after an incident like this is to make statements like "he'll get what's coming to him next time we play him, for sure". todd bertuzzi incident all over again? sidenote - downie is a hothead. down in the minors there was an incident where one of his teammates wasnt putting his all into a drill. downie told him to shape up or he would kick the crap out of him. the dude mouthed off to downie and he proceeded to crosscheck the guy in the mouth. downie has fire, heart, and passion - but he needs to work on letting it go legally.
September 26, 2007 8:53 AM ET | Delete
Fire, heart and passion are fine. But I don't think that it is considered heart when you cross check your teammate in the mouth. The NHL now has some players in this league who couldn't score on a high school team. But their "passion," or ability to hit people who aren't looking and leave themselves out of position. Yeah he was coasting, from a full sprint and then just start coasting. Mcgrattan hasn't done anything yet, I don't think that warrants a suspension. Maybe when they play to officials should do a pre-game warning like in baseball with batters getting pitched at. Excellent blog, this is only going to lead to someone being paralyzed or even killed.
RPR
September 26, 2007 8:54 AM ET | Delete
Stig, good sentiments. Hope everyone reads this.
September 26, 2007 9:26 AM ET | Delete
@sharksfan - downie has a love for the game and a tenacity that is almost unmatched. the problem is he goes too far. if he learns to keep that in check, he will be a great player. right now though he seems to be the kid who just hanst learned yet, and i guess we will see if he ever does. as for mcgrattan - youre right about him not doing anything yet but i will still disagree. you suspend him on the principle of it and make a statement from the league - we wont tolerate this. the last thing the league needs is another incident like the bertuzzi, and this is oddly reminiscent of it. my suggestion is to take preventitive matters now instead of letting this boil over - suspend both downie and mcgrattan (15 games and 3 games respectively with the 15 tapering into AHL play if downie doesnt make the flyers).
November 20, 2007 1:08 PM ET | Delete
It's definitely a problem that needs addressing. The trauma to the brain is evident and self-explanatory in viewing some headshots, and it has become more prevalent. Since Stevens' borderline decapitations of numerous players, Kozlov comes first to mind for me, the subsequent press and glorification he received has made it 'cool' to headhunt, as long as it is deemed 'clean'.It's hard to determine whether Campbell's hit on Umberger a couple years ago was anything more than a clean open ice check, but it does warrant examination. It sure was nasty. But others, such as Neil's hit on Drury and the hit on Kaberle, were late and can only be categorized as intent to injure--severely. Downie's hit falls into another category-- gross negligence. These hits happen at a high rate of speed and I wonder if anyone thinks they'll be cool when someone is dead on the ice. It is that serious and, if not imminent, certainly a strong possibilty.
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