March 10, 2011

It’s about time to look at head-hits, NHL

by Dan Bilicki In: Ice Hockey

I don’t care if he says it wasn’t intentional, I don’t care how many times hits like those have happened before, there was no possible way that the NHL could have simply let Zdeno Chara walk away scot-free after his hit on Max Pacioretty.
 
After the Bruins’ massive defenceman shoved the Habs forward into a stanchion, the whole sporting world turned its attention on the league once again, and the NHL blinked. No suspension, no fine, no penalty at all. How could a hit that violent go without punishment?
 
All that happened to Pacioretty was a broken vertebrae and a severe concussion; his season is over and who knows if he’ll be able to play again.
 
Now, as a result of that hit, somebody has finally stepped up in the fight to take head-hits and dangerous plays out of hockey. Was it the league? Was it the NHLPA? No, it was a key sponsor for the league, Air Canada – the second biggest sponsor the league has.
 
How did this happen? How could an outsider be the first to step up on a matter as serious as this one? I hope that it finally drives some change in a sport that has evolved much from its’ caveman days. And if it doesn’t move on, then I pray that Air Canada follows through and pulls the plug with its cash.
 
Finally, the worst part about the Chara hit was that it came only days before the seven-year anniversary of the infamous night when Todd Bertuzzi piledrived Steve Moore into the ice – probably the most sickening moment to ever take place in sports. Sadly, that case still hasn’t been resolved in court.
 
Hopefully, with all eyes on the NHL, they’ll do the right thing and start penalizing players, no just with fines, but also with suspensions, for being reckless with others’ health and livelihoods.

Follow me on Twitter: @danbilicki

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