UPDATED: NHL needs to take more of a stand against hits to the head (But not this time, apparently)
Note by Jim Schmiedeberg, 11/09/09 2:56 PM EST As mleetch put in the thread below, Glencross received a 3 game slap on the wrist from the NHL for the hit.
For more on the story, check out Puck Daddy, who has his own thoughts on the story, as well as quoting Joe's story below. Great work Joe!
Pro sports have never exactly been safe. Every sport has injuries, and when it comes to contact sports like hockey or football the chances of injuries are raised significantly. Currently the NHL is taking a long hard look at hits to the head and what they should do about it. Maybe they shouldn't look too far from home.
Now I am not naive enough to stand up here on a high horse and claim that the New York Rangers have not been guilty of their fair share of cheap shots. They have been guilty before and I am sure they will be guilty again, you can say the same for every team.
Two nights ago when the Rangers were playing the Calgary Flames Curtis Glencross delivered a blatant and gutless cheap shot to Chris Drury, knocking him out of the game and giving him a concussion. The referees missed the call and Glencross went unpunished. Honestly I can deal with the referees missing the hit, there is so much more going on in a hockey game than some fans realize. It is, at least slightly, understandable that the play was missed. Do you want that hit to be called? Of course you do and to be honest giving out five minute majors and game misconducts would do wonders to stop cheap hits, but some plays simply slip through the cracks.
Join me after the jump.
What gets to me--or at least will get to me--is that once the game is over the NHL does not step up. I'm just guessing here but I would say that Glencross will get a one game suspension, maybe three if he's unlucky. That can't be the case, especially if the NHL wants to put an end to hits to the head. Suspend him for 10 games, maybe more, give him something to think about. Make a real statement. A one game suspension truly doesn't even constitute as a slap on the wrist, it's just "required rest."
Another example was this "gem" from Donald Brashear last year during the playoffs. That hit got him a six game suspension, in my opinions he should have been out for at least 20. Players will start to think twice before throwing cheap shots if they are gonna get suspended for ten or more games. That's how you really stop hits to the head.
Let me reiterate something here. I don't care who throws the hit, if it happens it needs to be punished. If Chris Drury had thrown the hit against Glencross I would be saying the same thing. I don't care what type of reputation a guy has, if he throws a cheap shot he needs to be held accountable.
Hits to the head are very dangerous and very scary. Thankfully we are only taking about an injury that should last for a week, but what happens when we start talking about injuries that last a lifetime. What happens when someone gets critically injured? We aren't just taking about careers, we are talking about lives.
I find it ironic that the NHL is so worried about injuries that they change the rules to the game, but don't punish players when they have the shot. Taking away "right off the face-off fights" and fighting in the final minutes of a game are well and good. The tactics that the NHL has employed (suspensions and fines) seem to work for the most part. Dane Byers was guilty of this during the Edmonton game, and he was punished accordingly (and deserved it).
Let me also say that the NHL is usually good with situations like this. I am not implying that the NHL is putting their head in the sand on this one. The NHL just needs to make a more direct assault on cheap shots. People's safety is at stake.