Wednesday, March 10, 2010

NHL meets on headshots

Fresh off the Matt Cooke hit on Marc Savard, the NHL's General Managers met in Boca Raton, Florida to discuss headshots. The outcome? a new rule that gives officials the ability to hand out a penalty for questionable hits.

Chief Disciplinarian Colin Campbell explained that Matt Cooke's history as an offender cannot justify a suspension in this case, as technically a shoulder to head it is legal. He is correct in saying that, but that still created a stir across the league, as Tampa Bay Lightning forwards Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis spoke out about Matt Cooke and his history of opportunistic and predatory hits.

As a result of their meetings, the following language was agreed to unanimously by the group:

"A lateral, back pressure or blindside hit to an opponent where the head is targeted and or the principal point of contact is not permitted. A violation of the above will result in a minor or major penalty and shall be reviewed for possible supplemental discipline."

Many in the league might argue that this rule came seven years too late. Remember Steve Moore's hit on Naslund?

Steve Moore on Markus Naslund

Many infamous hits over the years have been called into question, as they are obviously predatory, not necessarily a 'hockey play', and have resulted in serious injuries. Especially in Markus Naslund and Eric Lindros' case, the players were never the same.

If you recall what Brian Burke said when Bertuzzi retaliated against Steve Moore, it is an interesting predicament that the players find themselves in. Players are taught to react and not think too much out on the ice. The game is too fast to ponder. It's all about reactions and quick decision making. Moreover, everyone asks players to play on the edge and not to ease up on the opposition. Terms like 'Killer Instinct' are sought after traits. Having said that, most players play their careers never involving themselves in such acts. Players like Chris Pronger, Matt Cooke, Jordin Tootoo, Steve Ott, even Alexander Ovechkin have a history of opportunistic - dare we say predatory - hits.

Here is the Matt Cooke hit on Marc Savard, and a recent history of some of the other more notorious plays.

Matt Cooke on Marc Savard

Mike Richards on David Booth

Doug Weight on Brandon Sutter

Scott Stevens on Eric Lindros

Scott Stevens on Paul Kariya


  1. Steve Moore was a punk... glad he's never come back!

  2. The only real way to prevent these hits is to implement an NFL roughing the passer style rule where you cannot hit a player after he makes a pass. Hitting should only be to knock the player off posession of the puck anyway. Bettman could learn a little bit from Godell.

  3. Wow thats a really good point.

    Would be a good way to eliminate the 'predatory' hits. Hits like Cooke's are opportunistic and not a hockey play IMO. I'm all for a big hit, but going out of your way when a guy doesn't have the puck is a bit silly...