So I'm guessing that the NHL asked themselves the same question that Ken Dryden did, "How could be be so stupid?" The league decided Wednesday afternoon to put a new protocol on dealing with concussions. The policy went into effect immediately beginning with tonight's games.
The program goes into effect a week after the incident involving max Pacioretty and Zdeno Chara sent rage and massive debate on head injuries and dangerous hits throughout the hockey world.
Arguments still continued right up to the afternoon announcement. During my lunch break from my real job, I came across several articles and commentary on the topic.
The Toronto Star had several editorial pieces and responses from readers. One that caught my eye was this one, which notes how even Gary Bettman's golden boy feels head shots need to be taken out completely.
"Unfortunately the GMs refused to get out in front of this issue and take the step that would have shown real leadership: recommending a ban on all head shots. Instead, they said boarding and charging rules will be tightened, and proposed longer suspensions for illegal head hits and repeat offenders. For other changes they kicked the can down the road to the NHL’s board of governors meeting in June (by which time, presumably, the current furor will have died down)."
QMI's Chris Stevenson also featured a piece on GM's ruling out a complete ban on head shots and the mandates the league would look into.
"With the intense public, media and NHL sponsor outcry about head hits and player safety, brought to a head by the concussion suffered by Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby and by the broken neck suffered by Montreal Canadiens winger Max Pacioretty on that hit by Boston's Zdeno Chara last week, there has definitely been a sense of a greater open-mindedness to change among the NHL's decision makers."
Stevenson also looks at the possibility of giving the "War Room" in Toronto more to look at during games. Personally the goal reviews drag a game out long enough, so unless serious injury is involved, two refs should be able to handle what goes on out on the ice. Oh, what am I saying?!
In all honesty, the NHL could maybe could take some pointers from other leagues. On Wednesday, the AHL suspended the Hamilton Bulldogs Gabriel Dumont ten games for a hit from behind that almost went unheard of over the weekend.. The Manitoba Junior Hockey League is certainly not afraid at all to throw the book at offenders. The league issued out 86 games in suspensions to players and coaches (including 40 games to one player alone), after an incident over the weekend.
Perhaps what needs to be done is a universal set of guidelines from junior, to the minor pros and right to the NHL. Bringing the IIHF and KHL on board might not be a bad idea as well. That way players begin, and stay accountable throughout their hockey careers for any illegal infractions. Maybe add that if you had a suspension worthy hit in the AHL, that it counts as your "first time" in the NHL as well. It's just an idea, and I'll leave the rest of you to debate/criticize that.
The issue of head shots and illegal hits will always be something the NHL will have to face, and at least they are making an effort to address it. It's too bad the league took it's share of victims (Steve Moore, Pacioretty, etc.), before they did it.
Brad Marchand will have his disciplinary hearing Thursday for his hit on R.J Umberger. The boys at Cup of Chowder seem to agree that this one violated Rule 48. They also note that NESN's voice of th Boston Bruins Jack Edwards seemed to blow this hit off. Edwards also made this comment, during the Bruins last game against the Columbus Bluejackets, after Chara shattered the glass with a shot; "I think this deserves a criminal investigation for vandalism, don't you?"