Nov 8, 2010, 12:12 AM EST
Concussions are a near-constant part of sports discussions lately – from players getting injured and dealing with the symptoms to pundits wondering how leagues should curb their presence.
While the NHL might be going overboard at times in the suspensions being handed out for checks that sometimes seem like borderline hits, it’s nice to see that the league’s collective hearts are in the right place. Even if it may have ruined large portions of the careers of players such as Marc Savard and Eric Lindros to get to this point.
But what about the hearts and minds of the players themselves? Former NHL official Ray Scapinello (seen in this post’s main photo) wonders if the issue of hits to the heads and other injurious checks might really be in the way hockey players treat each other more than the way the league legislates the aftermath. He shared those feelings with the Canadian Press.
“In days gone by, you used to hit a guy just to separate the puck,” said Scapinello, who spent 33 years as a NHL linesman before retiring in 2004. “Now they hit to hurt. … Even the cleanest check in the world, they’ll try and knock your head off. I don’t know if it’s lack of respect—I really can’t put my finger on what it actually is.
“The whole mindset of players has to change.”
Obviously I don’t have the same fly-on-the-wall experience as Scapinello, but I wonder if the issue is two-fold. For one thing, players are simply getting larger, something that would be pretty difficult to legislate. Another factor is that people are simply more aware of concussions; head injuries that might have been classified as “getting your bell rung” are now being treated more carefully. It’s natural to look back to whatever era you grew up in/matured in/whatever as a better period, but maybe things are just different now without being categorically worse?
I mean, after all, hockey is a tough, physical sport that always was (and probably always will be) a rugged game.
Moving on, another veteran referee named Ron Hoggarth discussed the challenges faced by modern officials, particularly in the case of the league’s new rules about hits to the head and blindside hits.
Hoggarth still watches a lot of NHL games on television and believes the referees are also adjusting to the new penalty. A major component of Rule 48 is supplemental discipline, which essentially gives the league’s hockey operations staff an equal role in its enforcement.
As a result, he thinks officials are less likely to call the penalty on the ice.
“I wish they’d give a little more (control) back to the referees,” said Hoggarth. “With the head shots, I’d really like them to say, ‘here it is, you guys call it.’ If it’s wrong, we can change it afterwards.
“I see some hesitancy from the referees to call that.”
Obviously, the NHL’s rules on such hits constitute a work in progress. How are you feeling about the way the league is handling such issues? Do you agree with Hoggarth and Scapinello? Feel free to share your thoughts on these subjects in the comments.
Dec 20, 2013, 9:45 AM EST
Impressing a legend is lofty praise.
Dec 20, 2013, 9:36 AM EST
He won the Stanley Cup and an Olympic bronze medal.
Dec 20, 2013, 9:00 AM EST
Sharks rookie Tomas Hertl was injured on the play.
Dec 20, 2013, 8:00 AM EST
That and the rest of the links to start your day.
Dec 20, 2013, 1:19 AM EST
Patrick Marleau spoiled it.
Dec 19, 2013, 11:30 PM EST
The Kings captain was suspended in April.
Dec 19, 2013, 11:12 PM EST
Not slacking off following that contract extension.
Dec 19, 2013, 11:01 PM EST
Toronto won 2-1 (SO).
Dec 19, 2013, 10:48 PM EST
His Goal of the Year entry …
Dec 19, 2013, 10:42 PM EST
They beat Calgary 3-2 in OT.
Dec 19, 2013, 10:16 PM EST
Mike Yeo on Minnesota: “We stunk.”
Dec 19, 2013, 10:00 PM EST
Maybe not an ideal trade-off.
Dec 19, 2013, 9:47 PM EST
The Blue Jackets with a rare blown third period lead.
Dec 19, 2013, 9:17 PM EST
Tough break for Z-Bad.
Dec 19, 2013, 8:50 PM EST
He might have suffered it blocking a shot.
Dec 19, 2013, 8:26 PM EST
It would be a sixth-rounder in 2014.
Dec 19, 2013, 7:35 PM EST
Dec 19, 2013, 7:17 PM EST
Phoenix is still pretty banged up, though.
Dec 19, 2013, 6:46 PM EST
George McPhee’s also glad Brayden Schenn isn’t injured.
Dec 19, 2013, 6:17 PM EST
He drew criticism for hitting Brayden Schenn Tuesday.
- Video: Dustin Brown ejected for kneeing, Tomas Hertl won’t return (update) 45
- No supplemental discipline for Caps’ Wilson 29
- Habs healthy scratch Briere for first time this season 6
- Chiarelli says he’s not trading Marchand 21
- Schenn to play tonight; Oates maintains Wilson hit was ‘totally clean’ 54
- Video: ‘The message is not being heard’ when it comes to illegal hits, suspensions 53
- Video: Kunitz collides with Rangers’ goalie Lundqvist in overtime (Updated) 60
- Discuss: Penguins outlast Rangers in the shootout on NBCSN Rivalry Night 43
- Video: Jagr passes Yzerman for eighth on NHL goals list 12
- Wild put Harding on IR to undergo change in MS treatment 17
- Updated: NHL suspends Thornton 15 games for Orpik attack (155)
- Janssen: Orpik should’ve fought Thornton, then ‘everything would have quieted down’ (123)
- Reports: Thornton will appeal 15-game suspension (107)
- Lucic addresses fight video, says he’s ‘disgusted and outraged’ by Vancouver (103)
- Cam Neely questions length of Thornton’s suspension (78)