I want to take a slightly different look at the recent furor at headshots in the NHL. Do I think they should be minimized? ABSOLUTELY! Do I think they can be completely eradicated? No, I dont, they happen, this is a fast game played by fast men but just because something is a head shot doesnt mean it should automatically be grounds fro a suspension. Hell anytime a big d-man hits a St Louis, Gionta, or Briere its bound to be a head shot. The real questions here should be as follows....
1)Was it necessary? Was this just "finishing your checks" or was this intentional intent to injure? The fact that Downie just had gotten flattened by Schubert leads me to believe, especially given Downie's volatile history, this was nothing but an attempt at revenge.
2)How long after the puck is gone? There needs to be a definitive measure of what is a "late hit" suspensions have been handed out for this, but the league still has not publicly defined "late" we all agree that at 2.3 seconds Janssens hit on Kaberle was late however personally I feel last nights hit while it was after the puck was gone and while McAmmond was admiring his pass it was fast enough that it was NOT a late hit.
3)Finally we come to HOW you hit....there is leaving your feet as result of collision and then there is the flying through the air routine Downie put on last night. Additionally while it doesn't really apply here I also think there is a difference between lifting your elbow to follow through on a hit with the shoulder / upper arm and leading with the elbow.
Thats my two cents worth on the subject, my personal opinion is Downie will be a problem player, his history has shown it, NOW is the perfect time for the NHL to speak loud clear and firmly in this matter. A long suspension at both the AHL / NHL level ( ala Perezhogin) is appropriate and neccessary.
Additionally, I am not a fan of pre-meditated revenge, its how we ended up in the Bertuzzi mess. Brian McGratton's words after the game sounded ominously like various Canucks comments prior to the Moore incident. Now would be a good time for the league to speak LOUD AND CLEAR that another Bertuzzi/Moore type incident will be dealt with harshly.