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.