The GM meetings this week were supposed to look at a few issues (head shots, expanded use of replay, and a few other odds and ends) however nothing else got any press coverage except the head shots in the aftermath of the Cooke hit on Savard. This hit was punishable. Cook is a repeat offender, targeted a helpless player from the blindside, and delivered an elbow to the head.
I am not sure why but everyone seems to avoid the main root cause of the problem. The main reason that the players are becoming concussed is that they are being hit in the jaw with a piece of harden armor. Until the NHL and NHLPA but face shields (like in the NFL) or remove the kevlar from the shoulder and upper arms, the players are still going to be concussed. If you have never put on the hockey pads of today and skated into the wall, you have no idea how much like Superman you feel. The problem is not lack of respect. The problem is not the speed of the game. The problem is not fighting. The problem is not the instigator rule. The problem is the use of this armor on the players. Without the armor the players will naturally slow down into the hits.
The other alarming trend that is occurring the players are working hard to “draw” penalty calls from the officials. I also feel that the offensive players are putting their body in a prone position to be potentially injured. While this may be unpopular, the NHL should add a penalty like international soccer has for dangerous play. A player that turns to purposely take a hit in the back and “draw” the penalty should go to the box – not with the player – only him.
More TV Issues in the States
Once again the NBC game of the week was blacked out in my area for college basketball coverage. For some reason with all the options of game packages that there have been more games not shown this year in any year since I moved into my house in 1994. I can count on 1 hand the games missed in the 15 years past on satellite or Center Ice. But with the DirecTV/Versus battle, the Comcast channel in Philly, the NHL network blacking out games, and the regional NBC blackouts – all I hear about is the lack of coverage of the NHL on television. On the weekly NHL radio show with Bettman, he spends most of the hour dealing with people complaining about TV contracts (most whining about having to watch the game in regular definition instead of HD – suck it up!). At least you are seeing the games. Many other fans are being eliminated from the ability to watch the games due to bad positioning by the league with respect to TV contracts.
So the NHL should move to show games every Sunday afternoon from the end of the Super Bowl until the regular season ends. Show games at 1:00 pm and 4:00 pm. Put them all on Center Ice so that the fans can get ready for the playoffs.
By the way, the real ramifications are going to be felt when the exclusive Versus games are not viewable during the first two rounds of the playoffs.
Weekly Game Notes
The Flyers have been flat in recent games, securing wins against the Islanders and Maple Leafs. Both of these games were won with inconsistent efforts. The Bruins took advantage of the lackluster effort and spanked the Flyers for 60 minutes. Versus a lackluster Leafs team the Flyers played about 10 solid minutes to win the game and went through the motions for the rest of the game. Against the Isles, the Flyers played a solid 3rd period to beat the Islanders.
The Chicago game on Saturday was one of the better played games of the season that I have witnessed. A scoreless game heading into the 3rd period with 2 of the teams predicted for greatness before the season saw a back and forth 3rd period with both teams building a 1 goal lead and being tied at 2 with 2 minutes left. As the time wound down, Hartnell just missed on a scoring chance from 30 feet and with 10 seconds left in the game and the puck in the Flyers end, the team pushed for 1 last rush. Giroux and Hartnell played give and go through the center ice and as Giroux stopped several Hawks all followed Hartnell driving to the net and left Carter wide open for a 35 foot one timer, the other Hawks pounced on Carter to cut off the shot. Giroux never looked at either one of these guys and simply threw a saucer pass from the right point to the left wing part of the goal crease for a tap in my Chris Pronger who made a rush from the left wing. Flyers take the lead with 2.1 seconds left! What a game and what a pass by Giroux.
In a treat on a rainy day, the Flyers played the Rangers on a Sunday afternoon game from the Garden. I am sitting back and getting ready to watch the game with the kids. Update: Flyers played a flat game and got beaten badly.
Good Night and Good Hockey!
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