I feel its time I speak on illegal hits in the NHL.To do this I am going to take some of what Wayne Gretzky recently said while visiting Edmonton and also what my own views are on the matter. Most of you who have been following me on twitter for some time know how I feel. In many (not all) cases the NHL needs to call out the guy getting hit. To many times you see a guy turn his back at the last minute hoping that either a) he will not be hit, or b) he will be hit and the player hitting him will get a penalty creating a power play.
There is an easy explanation for this. Hockey Canada has for a long time now put a stop sign on players backs reminding opposing players not to deliver a hit from behind. These kids quickly picked up on this and started turning there back to opposing players knowing they are now untouchable. Is it really a shock that this trickled into the NHL?
How about when a player is hit with an open ice hit. Whose fault is it? In this bloggers opinion the fault lies on both players. If the player being hit had his head up and is always looking around to see whos coming then he could avoid the hit. In todays game everybody feels sorry for the guy laying on the ice but fails to see that it is just as much his fault (sometimes more) that he is in that position as the guy who hit him. Scott Stevens, a perfect example of a guy that when he was on the ice opposing players took note and always watched where he was. If Stevens was playing in todays NHL he would have had a short career. Suspension on top of suspension would have ended it
Here is a simple solution. When the NHL investigates an illegal hit they should look at how both players acted leading up to the hit. Did the hitter have time to stop? Then sure suspend him but how about if the opposing player turned his back at the last second or was not paying due attention. Then throw a suspension his way. I can almost guarantee that if the NHL took this stance not only would concussions be down but these types of hits would drastically be down also. This is the only way I feel the issue will be resolved. If your going to wait for the players to respect each other and not deliver these hits then we can discuss this in another 100 years because things wont change. If suspensions get to out of hand then all that creates is more players putting themselves in position to be hit hoping to draw the penalty or suspension.
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