Unfortunately, serious injuries have been a major storyline this NHL season.  From headshots to slewfoots and everything in between, it’s hard to turn on the TV or look online without hearing about another injury or a potential “dirty play.”  While some continue to blame “the players having no respect for one another,” there are a number of possible reasons for the injuries that have taken place this season.

The NHL made lateral or blind side hits illegal when they implemented rule 48 last year.  However, that hasn’t stopped people from asking what more can be done and concussions and other injuries are still happening.  Should more rule changes be made?

When the NHL came out of the lockout, they changed the rules of the game to make hockey faster and more exciting than ever before.  However, is this same speed what’s causing injuries?  Was the “old NHL” safer for players?

Outside of a few traditionalists, you won’t find many people who find the NHL less entertaining today than it was before the lockout.  The common consensus is that hooking, holding and obstruction made the game slower, less interesting and prevented skill players from shining.

Since the lockout the game has been faster, the players have generally be younger and the sport is more competitive than ever before.  Is that the perfect storm for injuries?

Possibly, but NHL injuries are not a new thing.  The “old NHL” had its fair share of concussions as well.  Pat LaFontaine had his career ended by concussions.  Head injuries also limited Eric Lindros’ career. It’s recently been revealed that Bob Probert had degenerative brain disease that was caused by numerous hits to the head.  Both the Todd Bertuzzi/Steve Moore incident and the Marty McSorley/Donald Brashear stick-swinging episode took place during the “old NHL” and those remain two of the most controversial and violent acts in NHL history.

Of course that doesn’t mean that the NHL doesn’t have  a problem on its hands.  The safety of the players should always come first and just because injuries have always happened, that doesn’t mean the league shouldn’t find ways to reduce them whenever possible.

Even from a business perspective, something needs to be done.  Now that Air Canada has threatened to pull its sponsorship of the league,  others could follow.  Today Puck Daddy speculated that the violence may turn some fans away from the game.  The bottom line is that the NHL is more fun to watch when Marc Savard, Sidney Crosby and others are healthy and suiting up for their respective teams.

The NHL is faster, tougher and more competitive than ever before.  The rule changes that were made after the lockout certainly contributed to that, but they’re not the only factor.  Athletes themselves are in better shape than they ever have been.  This is true in hockey as well as almost every other sport.  We live in an age of specialized diets, customized training programs and incredibly well-engineered equipment.  Millions and millions of dollars are spent making athletes the best they can be.  This wasn’t the case in the past.

NHL general managers are meeting next week to discuss what can be done about the rise of concussions and other injuries.  Whatever they decide, it hopefully isn’t a return to clutching and grabbing.

However, burying their heads in the sand under the rational that “injuries are part of hockey” is no longer an adequate response either.

Comments (18)

  1. I’m a diehard NHL fan for 20yrs now, and it’s getting hard to watch. Cross checks to the mouth, dangerous boarding plays, and now the stanchion has been judged part of the playing surface. AND if you pile drive someones head off said stanchion you will not be responsible for any injurious outcome. The sport seems faster, and more barbaric. The old and new nhl’s are different places, different landscapes. But they’re both populated with the same people, with the same values. The people running this old boys club need to get with the times. The speed of the game no longer allows for the same type of violence. Rather, it must be played with strict respect and intense aggression. I fear there is little respect, or thought for the outcome of senseless plays.

  2. Kairos the best thing for you to do is to stop watching,must be a Habs fan.Pile drive, yeah right.

  3. Eddie Shore nearly killed Ace Bailey on the ice in 1933.

    The game has always been violent, and there has never been respect. These latest incidents are nothing new.

  4. If any of you are finding hockey hard to watch there are options for you!! Might I suggest the comedy channel, nope that probiably is to vulgar for you… Well then maybe you should check out the Diva channel on cable it might be just what your looking for! For that matter anything on the quebec networks as they probiably make sure to charge any tv shows with violence by their full extent of the law!!! LOL!!!

  5. Kairos, you little cat….. Go watch Speed Skating.. I hear that’s non contact.. It may be the skill sport for you, full of respect and non contact!!!

    A dream come true for a cat like you!

  6. i think that chara should be suspended for that hit, it was timed perfectly and i think the old nhl was more dangerous. lets go back to maurice richard breaking his stick over some guys back or when bobby orr was forced to retire because of his knees. players were always going for the knees and fights were always happening, that was when the nhl was great but now its not because of people like gary bettman he is an idiot!!!!!

  7. Lol! I didn’t really think there were fans who don’t mind kids lives and careers being crushed because of uneeded violence. I love the game, but there needs to be more of a leash on these guys. The serious injurious are mounting and families are being by ruined by something we can collectively change. I have plenty of hockey and street fights under my belt, it’s not that I had a problem with. It’s stickwork meant to injure, and careless, stupid plays like Charas. If you illegally interfere with anyone on the ice, anywhere on the ice, and your actions injure the opposing player you are ultimately responsible. For the NHL to suggest otherwise is disgusting. So, hide behind your team logo and feeble allegiances, and call me a ‘cat’- very clever double entendre, by the way. Bruins fans had every right to be pissed at Bergerons concussion, Pens with Crosby’s… as they damn well should have. It’s a league-wide problem that’ll hopefully be solved by people with a wider lens on life than some of you. Well thought out responses though.

    :)

  8. Anyone else tired of people complaining about the NHL being too violent? I agree there are problems, like the Matt Cooke’s who purposely try and injure players around him. But accidents (If I could underline or italicize that word, I would), like the Chara incident happen. People like Ignatieff, Air Canada, Via rail and Kairos need to shut their mouths. Get over it. Someone got hurt, but it happens.

    At most, Chara should have faced a fine for having a late hit. But otherwise, the hit was clean- He didn’t deserve a suspension, he doesn’t deserve to be investigated by the police and that incident doesn’t deserve to make the league change their ways to get a lot less violent, in order to listen to these cry babies. Again, get over it.

  9. i think the only reason people are saying its more violent these days is because of all the resources to tell ppl how violent a hit was, with facebook, twitter, many more site like the score and what not ppl get the word out faster on how dirty this hit was or that crosscheck was, for instance if you watch any game from around the 80′s 90′s there are so many “dirty” plays, but it never got the attention the plays do these days

  10. It’s people like yourself, who tell others with a different view to ‘shut up’ who are the biggest problem. You admit there is an issue, and identify Matt Cooke, but separate the Chara incident. Any fool can see the incidents are completely different hockey plays, yet what ‘people like kairos’ are arguing is that they were both reckless, poor decisions that resulted in serious injury. Go argue with Marc Savard or Max Pacioretty about reckless play and if it’s a problem. Your statement seriously lacks intelligence, and shines a bright light on the source of why this isn’t changing more quickly. Ignorance.

  11. Please explain how my statement lacks intelligence? Just because you don’t agree with what I said?

    Yes, I separate the Chara incident from problems like Matt Cooke. The Chara hit was not reckless or a poor decision. It was a hockey hit gone wrong. It’s unfortunate that the outcome was what it was, but it really wasn’t Chara’s fault.

    I admit players like Matt Cooke are an issue, because they purposely try and hit players with the intent to injure. I’m stating that there isn’t an issue with the game itself, but certain players in the game. The league could do a better job of eliminating those type of players, but Chara isn’t one of them. The NHL did a very good job of handing the Chara incident. Not perfect, but very good.

    And lastly, It’s not ignorance. How bout open your eyes, and realize like every true hockey fan outside of Montreal has realized. There was nothing wrong with the Chara’s hit other than the fact that it might have been a little late- which could warrant a fine, but not a suspension. It’s sad to thing a little accident like this has cause such a stir like this, and could potentially ruin a great game that the NHL has established since the lockout.

  12. Although Eric Lindros certainly experienced several devastating checks to the head the other incidents that you mentioned, Bertuzzi-Moore and McSorley-Brashear, were attacks rather than body checks that were part of regular play. Although i agree that no one wants to return to the old “clutch and grab” days, the way that the rules are currently being interpreted is farcical. Hooking, for instance, should be impeding an opposition player with one’s stick, NOT touching him with it near his waist. Slashing should be using the stick like an axe on an opposing player in a manner that might cause injury. Knocking the stick out of his hands or breaking his stick should NOT be a penalty. Players should hold onto their sticks more firmly and use less fragile sticks. Holding too should be called when an oppsong player is impeded, not simply touched with a free hand. Are we discussing hockey or basketball, where touching leads to a foul? The rule that prevents goalies from playing the puck in the corners has taken a skill away from goalies, and also led to an increase of players charging into the corners after pucks that could have been played by goalies. All of these changes in rules or interpretations have increased the likelihood of players using the one remaining means of stopping the opposition: bodychecks. And the increased prevalence of bodychecks leads to players getting carried away with more and more violent body checks. And while we’re at it, let’s go with “no touch” icing, and make it a rule that players have to have their helmets properly attached. Some players are almost in danger of tripping over their chinstraps. A helmet that is dislodged because it’s too loose cannot protect the head in the intended manner.

  13. ^This.

    …Where can I make my “Larry 4 Commish” pins?

  14. Definitely agree with no-touch icing and helmets being done up properly.

  15. I thought it lacked Intelligence simply because it’s advocating near-death ‘hockey plays’. That’s exactly the problem though- they shouldn’t be hockey plays. Removing the lateral hit to the head was a step forward, but it took the Savard injury (or Boothe, or whoever) to spark a change. Is this not the perfect time to take the stanchion out of the accepted hockey play, rather than champion it? That being said, I was heated, but didnt want to insult you personally. I simply disagree, and wrongly bunched you in with the absolutely retarded responses. I enjoy divergent viewpoints, they make for better conversations and better opportunity to learn. Cheers. :)

  16. It’s alright Kairos haha. But I still think as of right now, that its still a clean hit. It’s unfortunate what happened but technically it’s clean. I think the easiest way to solve
    Devasting hits like those, is to fix that sanction area so it is a lot safer so we don’t have to see incidents like the Chara one again.

    And if my typing sucks, it’s cause I’m also on my iPhone as well lol.

  17. Agreed, Matt. I guess the debate then boils down to removing the stanchion, padding the stanchion, or just making it illegal. But that’s the progress I like to see- open talk about the dangers that these guys face, that we can change. Someone on Hockeybuzz posted a half dozen stanchion hits. It definitely needs to be padded. Heck, pad it 6 feet thick with pillows and let guys go at it! So long as we don’t see broken necks and severe concussions. I, like most here prolly, play hockey, and I never want to see that during my or any other game lol

  18. Agreed. Hopefully something happens regarding that problem.

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