We’ve heard it suggested over the last couple of days that the NHL might choose to rush the implementation of their new blindside headshot rule in order to have it in effect in time for the NHL playoffs. It’s not a slam dunk at this point and there are valid reasons for putting the rule through the same lengthy consideration that other proposed changes see, but as Greg Wyshynski wrote yesterday, the benefits may outweigh the negatives here:
Player safety should, and probably will, trump this inconvenience for the referees, the players and League disciplinarians — even if the “blindside” rule enforcement is all over the map in the 2010 postseason.
There’s too much momentum behind expediting the rule change, especially after getting a “Hockey Night in Canada” spotlight from Don Cherry. And as David Booth and Marc Savard have shown, there’s too much at stake not to pass is expeditiously.
Some of that momentum takes the form of public support for the proposed rule. A recent poll conducted by Harris Decima Research finds that the Canadian public is overwhelmingly in favour of a rule that limits headshots, with 55% of respondents satisfied with the G.M.’s proposal and 32% wishing for more stringent measures.
While the NHL has occasionally shown an alarming willingness to shoot itself in the foot, it’s difficult to argue with that kind of public support, and like Wyshynski I believe we will see this new rule change expedited.