"Should the NHL ban blindside hits to the head?"
In the most recent poll in the ESPN section of NHL.com, I found the preceding question. Should this even be a question?
I can understand being a purist and wanting as little change to the league as possible, but should we even have to ponder this issue when players left and right are getting knocked out for large chunks of the season from these types of hits?
The most recent incident, occured today. Florida's David Booth took a shot the head from Montreal's Jaroslav Spacek. This isn't the first time these two teams have been involved in nasty hits this year:
-Just last month, Montreal's Maxim Lapierre shoved San Jose's Scott Nichol into the boards from behind. Fortunately the NHL made the smart disciplinary decision, and geve him a 4 game ban.
-Much earlier in the season, Florida's Nathan Horton was layed out by Philadelphia's Mike Richards.
The problem here isn't that these types of hits are happening, hockey is a contact sport and collisions such as these happen, both accidentally and purposefully. The issue here however is the NHL's lack of action to stop it. Sure the league has been throwing out suspenions, however even at that they have missed a few, most notably, the Matt Cooke hit on Marc Savard.
The other thing I believe that the NHL is doing wrong is keeping the instigator rule. Look, if your going to just ignore the fact that you should've implemented a headshots rule years ago, get rid of the instigator rule, so that punks like Lapierre and Cooke and many others get whats coming to them. The instigator rule was a bad idea anyways. Players don't just go around slugging random people who haven't warranted it.
Something that was brought to my attention by Barry Melrose about a week ago - when James Wisniewski fired an elbow to the face of an unexpecting Brent Seabrook - was this, the only time the NHL gets any exposure on ESPN, is when a headshot occurs. That just isn't right on multiple levels:
1. That the NHL has become notorious for dirty play in the eyes of a casual sports fan.
2. That ESPN cares so little about hockey that unless its a Sid the Kid vs Ovi matchup, the only way an NHL game will make headlines is if some punk like Wisniewski blows up a star player.
The only argument I could find against adding such a rule, besides the fact that perhaps some extrme purists would be against it, is that the league is afraid such a rule may eliminate all checks period. This is ridiculous and blasphemy. Of course the checks won't be eliminated and physical play and battles will still be there. At the least, the grind of a battle in front of the net.
I think this rule to eliminate the blindside check to the head is a step in the right direction. But it comes a little late in my opinion. I think the Boston Bruins would back my belief.