Friday, March 26, 2010

Kerrzy’s Notebook: NHLPA approves Headshot Rule; What now?

The NHL Players Association has given the nod of approval to a rule that outlaws blind side hits to the head, at least for the rest of this season.

This means the NHL can now go back and punish players for targeting the head of an opponent – that is, until the league finds another excuse to not punish this type of garbage.

Why do I say that?

Well, the NHL is trying to look proactive on the issue of headshots by making a big deal out of this new rule when they could have been punishing players all along (like they occasionally, but not consistently have been doing).

According to the NHL rulebook, "intent to injure" should result in a match penalty, which comes with a game ejection and a five-minute penalty. Elsewhere in the NHL rulebook, intent to injure is described as “any physical force which a player or goalkeeper knew or should have known could reasonably be expected to cause injury.”

Even a diminutive New York lawyer should have no problem arguing that, for example, Mike Richards knew (or should have known) that if he put his shoulder into the head of an unsuspecting David Booth at a high rate of speed, it would cause injury.

Am I right?

So, they’ve had a rule in place all along that could have been used to protect players like Booth, who missed 45 games, but they didn’t use it. What makes anyone think this ‘new’ hit to the head rule will result in anything of substance?

If you’re confused about what constitutes legal and illegal hits under the new rule, the NHL has released a video with examples of both:

Did anyone else snicker when they saw Richards on Booth and Cooke on Savard in the “illegal” part of that package?

How about when the NHL went vintage and used a Scott Stevens on Eric Lindros hit in the “legal” portion. Gold.

Okay – so to recap, Richards on Booth and Cooke on Savard were both legal hits and now they’re not. Yet, Cooke on Artem Anisimov earlier this season, which is identical to both of those hits if not less severe, warrants a two-game suspension?

To make things even more confusing, despite the fact that it’s one of the least offensive of all the dirty plays we’ve seen this year, James Wisnewski’s hit on Brent Seabrook is worth eight games?

I just don’t get it.

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