Posted 11:02 PM ET | Comments 0
It's been a couple of weeks since I've posted something, but lately, all the talk about trying to minimize the number of head shots in the NHL has intrigued me a little bit.
Since Zdeno Chara's hit on Max Pacioretty last week, the league has been under scrutiny by many outside organizations for not coming down hard on the towering Bruins defenseman. But, I agree with Colin Campbell's decision not to suspend Chara. Why is it, that when a player of Chara's size plays the body -- like he's supposed to along the boards -- on another player and it results in a critical injury, does the league then have to hand down a suspension? Plain and simple, it was an accident, a "hockey play." Even Pacioretty knows that, and said that he doesn't want to see any investigation by the Montreal Police on Chara.
The NHL has seen numerous head shots in the past couple of decades. Players have been forced into the dividing column several times in the past couple years, when you think of Ryan Smyth driven hard into the column, or Drew Doughty most recently before Pacioretty. The reason for so much uproar about this particular hit, is the effect that the hit left on the ice afterward. Pacioretty lay motionless on the ice and had to be carried off on a stretcher...but, why does there have to be a suspension laid down based on effect? Did Scott Stevens get suspended in the 2000 Eastern Conference Finals for his heavy blow on Philadelphia Flyers center, Eric Lindros? The answer is no. It was a clean hit and he caught Lindros with his head down in the neutral zone...the hit arguably ended Lindros' career...is this not a lasting effect on a great career?
So why then should Chara be suspended for what happened with Pacioretty? It was an accident. He didn't line him up and skate through the neutral zone head hunting, and he didn't grab him by the back of the head and intentionally slam him face first into the dividing column.
I think it's absolutely outrageous that the Montreal Police have launched a criminal investigation against Chara...what happens on the ice, stays on the ice. Let the league deal with the fines and suspensions, Chara didn't assault Pacioretty in a side ally after the bar in downtown Montreal, the police should have no involvement in this...it was a "hockey play." Those were Pacioretty's words, a "hockey play."
The only way to limit the number of head shots is to slow the game down again, by either allowing more obstruction (pre-lockout days) or implementing the significance of the center line again and having a two-line pass. It may prevent big hits to the head in the neutral zone. Another rule that could be introduced and I think should be, is no touch icing. This would prevent injuries that occur from racing to the puck in the corners.
The game will always be changing, and that's a fact, but from an outside perspective it's important that the league doesn't go and make drastic changes because of what goes on in the media or general public.