It seems that the NHL is finally starting to take a closer look at all the hits that are giving the game a bad name. Sure, we are bloodthirsty and we like the hard hitting, the occasional fight and the intimidation strategy that goes along with the game. However, we also like the fast skating, the crisp passing and the laser shots that can only come from the game of hockey. The second part of the equation is taken away when our fastest skaters, our high scorers and even our best goaltenders are injured or given a concussion due to some stupid, purposeful, cheapshot that usually involves an errant elbow or knee; or charge or hard check from behind into the boards.
As fans, we spend our money on season tickets so that we can see our team’s best players come out and play hockey. What good is it if you have guys like Evengi Malkin, Sidney Crosby, Marion Gaborik and Jeff Carter out for a good portion of the season? Yes, injuries are part of the game, but if your best skaters are always targeted by an intimidator looking to injure, then something needs to change. If it doesn’t, then players will dress like the pee-wees in full gladiator suit and cage which is certain to slow the game down and make it less glamorous.
Let’s take the recent case of Matt Cooke of the Pittsburgh Penguins who blatantly hit New York Rangers Ryan McDonagh with an elbow to the head. Yes, McDonagh should be expecting a hard challenge from Cooke as he was shooting the puck into the Penguins zone. Should he have to also expect an elbow to the face? It is lucky for Cooke and more so for McDonagh that he did not get seriously injured from such a blow.
The NHL is starting to see the light and severely punished Cooke handing him a suspension through the remaining season and the first-round playoffs. Cooke, who will lose about 219K in wages, publicly apologized for the incident. Penguins defenseman Kris Letang, General Manager Ray Shero and Owner Mario Lemieux, (also subject to many injuries) agreed with the NHL’s harsh enforcement of penalties especially to repeat offenders.
What is your view on NHL violence?