The very fact that Colby Armstrong is allowing himself to be punched in the head is, in itself, paradoxical.

“But you didn’t have to hit him.”

“Ellen, he had his head down. He was coming through the middle with his head down. Guy does that, he’s gonna get hit.”

“No, he’s not. Not necessarily. He’s only going to get hit if you choose to hit him.”

M sighs heavily. Everything M does, he does heavily. He’s a big man, more than six feet, more than two hundred pounds. Now on the far side of thirty, he’s gone a bit soft at the midsection, but you can still see the shadow of the player he used to be, when he was young and dreamed of making the pros. That player, although he’s mostly faded now, must have been a terror. Even now, M inspires a little dread among the people he plays with. He’s one of those guys who’ll always be muscular, always be strong, no matter how little effort he puts in. His temper is short and his hockey values are very, very traditional.

“You don’t understand,” he says. “If you’d played, you’d understand. Guy does what he did, kid or no kid, I gotta hit him. That’s hockey.” A few of the guys arrayed around our argument nod agreement, the others stare at their shoes. No one is going to take my side.

The kid was fourteen and not very good, but bold as Taiwanese kids are, with a penchant for trying to streak his way single-handed into the offensive zone. He’d been trying to do just that, coming down on M with speed, fixing to make some kind of snazzy move, when M leveled him. Not a full-on hit, by Canadian standards, more of an emphatic standing-up, leaning from almost a dead stop, forearms out, right into the kid’s head. It was like watching a sparrow fly into a brick wall. The kid bounced off him and sprawled on the ice, dazed.

Apparently he’s okay, the kid that is, but it was a bad scene. M is going to get in some kind of trouble over this, and he feels that’s unfair. He is adamant that he did nothing wrong. I’ve been arguing with him for an hour now, bringing up every counterpoint I can think of: it’s a non-contact league, the kid was very young and much smaller, this is not Canada and Canadian hockey customs don’t necessarily apply. Doesn’t matter. He doesn’t care. For M, there are certain inviolable principles inherent in the very core of hockey and among them is this: anyone who skates through the middle with his head down needs to get laid out. Period. It’s not a situational thing nor a negotiable one. It’s the law. Eddie Shore brought it down from the mountain inscribed in stone, a commandment from the hockey gods.

***

That was my first personal encounter with this commandment- thou shalt demolish those who have their heads down- but it’s fairly pervasive across all levels of contact hockey and especially among the pros. I’ve heard variations of it expressed by the heirophant Cherry and the encyclopedic Marek, by distant television commentators and close personal friends. You can hear Dion Phaneuf and Alex Ovechkin expressing it here. Back in the early days of my fanaticism, it used to be part of the standard response to a knock-out hit- too bad, but that’s what happens when you skate with your head down. What might have begun as a principle of self-protection- learn to keep your head up or some unscrupulous person will try to take it off- eventually evolved into a principle of aggression- if you see someone with his head down, you have a moral duty to try to take it off. It became embedded in the culture of hitting.

I find it odd that this principle doesn’t come up more in the larger hockey community’s conversation about headshots. You will often hear people talking about how concussive hits are hockey plays gone bad, but what goes unsaid is that the whole reason they’re ‘hockey plays’ is that ‘hitting unobservant heads’ has long been considered an essential part of hockey. Headhunting isn’t something that just kind of happens sometimes because of a few bad eggs, it’s something that’s been part of the fabric of the game for decades. It’s something that today’s generation of NHL players grew up with, and for years it has perpetuated a powerful culture of victim-blaming in hockey.

The belief that anyone with his head down deserve to get destroyed has, historically, conditioned professional players to sympathize with the hitter rather than the hittee, which in turn drives the NHLPA’s historical tendency to lobby against intensive supplementary discipline measures. Many of the limits on fines and suspensions that limit effective deterrence are mandated within the CBA, and it was not the owners pushing for them. It was players, who felt that it was more important to protect their bank accounts than their brains. Of all the obstacles to implementing dramatically stronger punishments for headshots, the NHLPA is potentially one of the most powerful. In the new CBA negotiations, it could kill almost any proposed safety measure either through its opposition or its indifference. And so the forces of reform are in the ironic position of having to persuade players of the importance of their own safety.

There has, of course, always been a contingent of players who don’t want to get hit. Some players carry the puck more than others. Some roles mandate that a man must attempt sophisticated moves in dangerous areas, plays that will sometimes force him to have his head down. There are any number of motions- reaching for a puck, making a turn, skating hard- that put a player’s head at optimum brain-pulverizing height. For a lot of skill guys, vulnerability is something you have to risk to make a play.

Back in the day, though, when everyone thought that the worst consequence of taking a huge open-ice hit was getting a bit shook up, ‘not wanting to get hit’ wasn’t a valid thing for a hockey player to express. It sounded like cowardice or weakness or a lack of understanding of the game. There was no valid grounds to object to that style of hitting, and therefore the idea that the victim deserved could go unchallenged within the culture.

We’ve seen that change a lot in recent years. Now that concussions and CTE provide a legitimate grounds to object to the targeting of players in vulnerable positions, more and more players are objecting. There are far more quotes now to the effect that we need to get these kind of hits out of the game and nobody wants to see that and it’s really dangerous. Most of these are from guys who’ve had to sit due to concussions or their teammates, but it’s spreading.

The problem is that these guys- the skill players who have been prominently concussed and those who increasingly talk publicly about their fear of being concussed- are still in the minority. A famous minority, of course, a minority with lots of name recognition, but still a minority. In the balance of work in the NHL, there are far more players whose job it is to stop the elite than there are elite, and many of these players- the checkers, energy guys, pests, shut-down lines, and enforcers- still see themselves as more likely to be the victims of supplementary discipline rather than the victims of concussive violence. As long as a majority of players fear the Shanaban more than they fear a concussion, it will be difficult to get the NHLPA behind stronger disciplinary measures. The outspoken skill players can create a conflict within the Players’ Association, but on their own, they can’t win it.

The NHL is an amalgamation of different constituencies, and making the game safer requires persuading these constituencies, one by one, that a safer game is in their interest. The fans and media are, I think, well on their way to being persuaded. The next essential constituency is the NHLPA. If we are to come down harder on head hits, there must be an argument for safety that might win over even the hitters. There needs to be something persuasive enough to counterbalance their faith in the traditional principle of dutiful headhunting.

I submit that the case of Colby Armstrong might provide this argument.

Colby Armstrong, as you might remember, used to be quite the reckless hitter. He wasn’t a very good hitter, mind you, having a tendency to throw himself into checks with limbs flying everywhere like a disordered scarecrow, but he was enthusiastic and irresponsible and he did some damage. His coaches, apparently, loved it, and it is presumably part of what inspired Brian Burke to offer him a spectacularly ill-advised $9 million, three-year UFA contract. Truculence, etc.

Then the injuries started. There was a tendon problem, then a scratched cornea, then a broken foot, then a high ankle sprain, making for a total of 55 missed games in just two seasons- a perilous run of bad luck for a third-liner under any circumstances. So when he took a hit from Ryan Kesler and started feeling concussion symptoms, he tried to cover them up. He managed to hide it all of two days before being found out and put on the long-term IR to recover. He didn’t play for months.

As Harrison Mooney very aptly pointed out at the time, Armstrong had every reason to try to hide his symptoms. He’s not a star player. He’s a third-liner, a thwacker, a grinder-in-corners. With no great hands or miraculous hockey sense to commend him, durability is a necessary part of his skill set. Without it, he risks becoming unemployable.

A team will wait for Sidney Crosby or Chris Pronger or Claude Giroux. Those players are tremendous investments and the franchise has every reason to want to bring them back only when they’re healthy and effective again. Elite players may risk more concussions but they also benefit from more concern and more patience when they get them. The bottom six, though? For them, even one concussion could easily mean the end of the career.

This is the Armstrong paradox, then, that the third-liners suffer the most either way: it is their job to hit close to the line, and therefore they will always bear the brunt of whatever fines and suspensions are on the books, but if they get hit beyond the line, they’re likely to lose that job altogether. No matter what the disciplinary regime, it’s the bottom of the roster that will feel the worst of it. The only issue that remains, for them, is which is worse to endure: suspensions or concussions?

The traditional resolution to this paradox was prefer restricted suspensions and try to play through concussions, and for years, presumably, it worked. But as Armstrong discovered, in this climate, it won’t work any more. Everyone is far too aware of the symptoms. Teammates, trainers, doctors, coaches, friends and family will notice runs of headaches, nausea, poor balance, confusion, light and sound sensitivity. They’ll ask questions, and they have very little remaining incentive to conspire along with the pretense that nothing is wrong just to keep a marginal player on the ice. In 1975, a player might have successfully played through a concussion with vague references to headaches or trouble sleeping, his weak play dismissed as nothing more than a slump. But now? People will figure it out, and they will take you off the roster when they do. For players like Armstrong, off the roster is half a step away from out of the NHL.

First-line players have been facing the fact that concussions might end their career for decades. Now, however, fourth-line players are going to have to realize that it’s just as likely for them, and perhaps even likelier. If there is any constituency in the NHL who has a deep and vested interest in never, ever receiving even one concussion, it is players on the margins of the roster, those who will only get one chance at making the Show. In a concussion-aware world, their interest finally changes: far better for a replacement-level player to be sternly punished for laying a bad hit than to be summarily dumped in the AHL for receiving one.

Going into the new CBA this summer, there are forces colluding to push the NHLPA further in the direction of player safety than ever before. There’s a real opportunity for getting the players behind a stronger disciplinary regime than they’ve been willing to support in the past, with an eye towards deterring concussive hits. However, such a regime has to be designed in such a way that the greatest number of players can support it, which means- I think- drawing a major line between first/second offenders and chronic offenders. Some commentators, moved by Matt Cooke and his come-to-Jesus moment, have been lauding automatic massive suspensions as the ideal deterrent, but it’s going to be nigh on impossible to get a preponderance of NHL players to agree to the notion that any hit to the head might cost them 5% of their salary or an automatic 3-game suspension. Too many players can imagine themselves accidentally miscalculating the seconds and inches and crossing the line once or twice in their career, and they’re right to imagine that- there’s no player in the game so clean that he never once made a bad decision. But a proposal that raises penalties dramatically for each offense (say, squaring both fine and suspension every time, not including prior offenses but starting from a clean slate with the new CBA) might find far more support.

What we often forget when proposing new punishments is that the players are not only objects of the disciplinary regime but co-creators of it. The NHL cannot simply dream up a system and impose it as though skaters were unruly children or bad dogs. To have the slightest hope of being implemented, any revised disciplinary structure must speak to the interests and desires of the players who will be playing under it. Thankfully, for perhaps the first time ever, the interests broad cross-section of players are starting to weigh on the side of deterring concussions rather than causing them. You can thank Colby Armstrong for that.

 

Bonus link:  Brad Richards talks about the NHLPA and player safety here.

Comments (20)

  1. I don’t think you’ll find many who think that head injuries aren’t of growing importance in today’s game. But, I do think the purists among us will have objections to removing checks from the game.

    What’s the solution to the guy coming down the middle of the ice with his head down? The defender lets him skate by? If so, I’ll put my head down until the cows come home if I know I wont get hit. How are defenders supposed to defend?

    • I think there’s a middle ground between ‘no hit’ and ‘lining up the hugest possible hit’. Sometimes separating a guy from the puck is enough.

      • I don’t disagree per se, and I would like to see less concussions, but there is a valid point being made by Mike. I’m no scientist, so I may be completely wrong on this, but I think the worst part about being lined up with your head down, isn’t that the guy hitting you is necessarily coming in any harder than at other places on the ice (although it can and does happen), it’s that you have no idea you’re about to get hit. Therefor, you don’t prepare to be hit in any way. You don’t brace yourself. You don’t try to avoid. Targeted head shots aside, you are more likely to be concussed because of the lack of preparedness when u get hit this way.

        I think we can all agree that the goal should be to remove shots to the head, and i assume this will be THE compromise no?

      • I agree, as I agree with the sentiment of the whole article. Want to hit a guy? Fine. Don’t hit him in the head.

        See? No strawman taking-hitting-out-of-the-game stuff. Hits are great. Traumatic brain injury is bad. There will still always be some degree of risk – a hit gone awry, a head landing on the ice – but let’s minimize that risk, rather than embracing it and, well, knocking its head off.

      • I think this is only true sometimes. The hits were talking about here, the open ice where the guy getting hit has his head down, are most often of the head on variety. Let’s blame Mr. Newton for explaining to us that two objects with mass hitting each other at quite a decent velocity is going to result in one of the objects, normally the smaller one, to go off flying.

        Simply, there is no way to make these sorts of head on hits any softer. Don’t aim for the head? Of course. But no matter what, the head is going to be impacted due to the nature of these hits.

        So do we remove these sorts of hits from hockey? Say, consider them charging? I don’t know. Maybe we have to consider it.

        I remember growing up watching Scott Stevens make a living from these hits. The mere threat of him lurking in the defensive zone made forwards everywhere dump and chase. The Devils haven’t found much success in the playoffs since his retirement, and I think some of that can be placed on no one being afraid to skate into the Devil’s zone anymore. What I’m trying to say is, these big hits are pretty effective, so long as you’re on the right side of them.

        • It’s funny you mention Stevens. It was his titanic hit on Paul Kariya that started my reconsideration of “blowing up” an opponent. It was a hugely late hit on an unsuspecting player who, incidentally, DID have his head up – but who’d passed the puck away two seconds prior and had no reason to expect 215 pounds of hockey player to run him over at 20+ mph.

          Obviously, players need to be able to defend the zone. Puck-carriers need to be aware of their surroundings and not stare at their own stickhandling. And ultimately, any full-contact sport is going to carry the risk of bodily harm to its participants. So, at what point does a responsible safety measure take something essential away from the sport?

          The suggestions further down to make elbow and shoulder padding less dangerous to opponents bears consideration. But it’s as Ellen says – this is a cultural change first. These are generations of hyper-competitive men coached to react in a certain fashion, conditioned by highlights to react in a certain fashion, celebrated by fans when they do in fact react that way, and paid millions for it. That’s hard to just undo by fiat. Brendan Shanahan can act out those suspension explanations live at center ice for the benefit of the teams, with the highlights on the jumbotron – it’s not going to change anything all at once.

          One way to start would be to acknowledge that the traditionalists have a point about hitting, and that safety-minded people aren’t “pansifying” the game. Try to build off common ground, try to get a hearing. Agree on what is clearly out of bounds and what should clearly remain, and not derail the whole discussion with a pointless quarrel over something right on the line.

          • It’s a funny change of culture that’s occurred, even since 2003. These days, you’re correct, Stevens would be suspended for a late hit to the head.

            Kariya would also probably not be permitted to come back into the game after being out cold, as well.

            I’m all for penalizing checks that aren’t clean. But you picked one hit out of many Stevens hits that were not penalties in the 90s and early 2000s that are borderline to suspension worthy in today’s NHL. I think the culture IS changing in that way. I am just worried about taking it too far and penalizing legal checks.

          • I’m all for penalizing checks that aren’t clean. But you picked one hit out of many Stevens hits that were not penalties in the 90s and early 2000s that are borderline to suspension worthy in today’s NHL.

            I can’t help which hit it was… that truthfully was the one that made me start to really think about it. In fact that’s why I thought so much about it: it was legal according to the rules to brain this guy well after the puck was no longer a concern. Kariya hadn’t had anything to do with the play for two full strides, and Stevens demolished him – not to take the puck, which was long gone, but just because the rules said he could. The result was Kariya sliding on the ice like a rag doll, literally not breathing any more for five seconds. Watching his visor suddenly fog back up as he came to was terrifying. It’s not like I’m a cub hockey fan either – I was thirty at the time of the game.

            Something about it really bugged me. When Stevens crushed Lindros, he was hitting a puck carrier. Here he was just targeting his opponents’ most dangerous threat and taking it out of the game. Regardless of rules, it had no hockey logic to it. At that point it was just a matter of attrition. Not to say that Stevens intended to cause injury, but if he “rung his bell” well enough, then Kariya would be ineffective or sidelined. I think it’s dangerous to cross the line from “I will stop my opponent from making the play” to “I will stop my opponent from taking the ice at all.”

    • “What’s the solution to the guy coming down the middle of the ice with his head down? The defender lets him skate by? ”

      Put a body on him, but dont try to separate his head from his chest. Its really not that hard to interfere with someone.

  2. Hockey Theory has (for better than the last sixty years) determined that if one is allowed to *HIT*? then one should find every opportunity to hit.

    Consider the analogus of allowing a car into rush-hour traffic, ahead of you – Then discovering several reasons for regret, having done so?

    Same thing.

    You cut a guy a break? He’ll come back to cause you grief. No doubt about it.

    And every coach you ever had (or will ever have) will tell you exactly the same thing – Never give a sucker an even break. Never.

    It’s definitive, in Hockey – If you have the chance to hit a guy and he presents the opportunity? You do it. You knock him into tomorrow – Because, if you don’t? You know he’ll knock you into tommorrow (when he has the chance – AND pre-emptively) or he’ll make you pay; humiliating you with a scoring-chance/goa you could have easily defended against.

    Do unto others before you are done unto. Simple.

    • Of course, players and coaches will always push the violence of the game to the furthest legal boundary, both for tactical reasons and out of faith in the doctrine of intimidation. But, through the past hundred years of hockey history, the League and it’s constituents have come together at various times to agree that limits need to be put on the level of acceptable violence. My favorite example is always stick-swinging- used to be a common thing interwar period, but over time, a combination of rules and cultural changes pushed intentional stick violence out of the game. There was a time where the two-hander to the head was relatively common; now it’s very nearly unthinkable.

      So my point is that at some point, and some point soon, if players are concerned about concussions (as I believe they are), there’s going to have to come a mutually-agreed-upon moving of the line away from the kind of huge hits that have been Raffi Torres’ (for example) speciality.

      • Last spring, Ray Shero pitched a zero-tolerance hit to the head rule at the general managers’ meeting in Boca Raton, FL. It gathered no support from the other GMs, so as far as the NHL goes this is a topic that goes well beyond the players and the NHLPA.

        http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/sports/penguins/penguins-shero-still-hopeful-for-head-hit-ban-287301/?p=0

        On the other side of the argument, if you start to punish hits on players skating with their heads down then everyone is going to skate with their heads down. It would be completely taking any responsibility away from the player not being aware of his surroundings. Yes, there needs to be a degree of protection for predatory hits but the onus still has to remain on a player to not put themselves in a vulnerable position.

        • Oh, I know the GMs and the owners aren’t particularly interested in stricter hitting regulations, but that’s exactly why the NHLPA needs to be won over if change is ever going to happen. If the players can’t be persuaded to use what leverage they have in their own interests, there’s very little hope that anything fans or media think will have an impact.

        • “On the other side of the argument, if you start to punish hits on players skating with their heads down then everyone is going to skate with their heads down.”

          That’s just irrational fear-mongering. Its awfully tough to be a good hockey player staring at your skates when you are skating with the puck.

          People seem to me missing the point when talking about who should be “responsible” for
          No one is saying people who put themselves in vulnerable positions are smart and should be rewarded. But why do we want to give someone who is not smart enough to recognize a player is vulnerable a free pass?

          Do we allow a player who high sticks someone who doesnt wear a visor a free pass? The non-visor guy is more vulnerable than a visor guy. He’s obviously taking more risk of a facial injury than the visor guy. But we don’t give the two guys different levels of protection. We recognize that high sticks to the face are bad, and we punish anyone who does it. Hits should be no different.

  3. 1 – While i agree in principal with the idea that head shots need to be limited i honestly believe that the way that should happen is with advances in hockey equipment rather than the removal of big hits in games. Look at today’s shoulder and elbow pads they are basically PVC pipe strapped to a 210 pound cinder block travelling at 20mph…its going to make for a large large impact. soften the damn gear up….use memory foam or something but hard plastic is just death. 15 years ago elbow pads were foam with straps but with today’s game it almost seems like shoulders and elbows are being given higher safety priority than heads.

    2 – even if advances were made with gear the reality is that all of these “hits to the head” are generally the cause of physics and size differential. think of the physics of throwing a hit. the player loads up by bending his knees and then explodes upwards trying to direct all his energy through his shoulder. if the player hitting is bigger than the hittee then his shoulder will contact higher up and because of physics frequently it will even contact the chest of the player and the upward momentum will carry his shoulder up into the head. This is also why frequently it looks as tho the player has “left his feet” when in reality his feet leaving the ice is the result of the amount of force he has used in throwing his hit rather than because he has actually jumped.

    3 – i believe that NHL should be putting a WHOLE lot more onus on the player being hit. how often does the player being hit. the contact hockey unwritten rule book reads: 1 – never skate with your head down 2 – never pass into someones skates 3 – if someones head is down then make them pay.

    skating with your head down is like taking a penalty, YOU made a mistake, you put yourself in a bad position and now the other team is going to try and make you pay for your mistakes. I realize that injury occurs from hits and not generally from power plays but the basics of the situation are still the same. Make a mistake and you risk paying a price. that is basically the moral of hockey as a sport and if you try to differentiate that idea from just one facet of the game ie hitting then it creates an imbalance in the game and as mike K said if you know that you wont get hit then you will do it every time.

    The best example of the hittee having the onus put on them is Raffi Tores’s hit on Brent Seabrook last year. Seabrook is behind the net looking backwards reaching for the puck behind him. he cant move left or right because he is funneled in by the net and the boards and Torres makes him play BIG TIME. From a hockey purists point of view this is the EPITOME of not looking where you are going and paying the price for it. Would Seabrook drive his car that way? no and if he did and got hit then you know he would be at fault as well as the person who hit him. This kind of hit is what makes the NHL so great. its huge and its well deserved. make a mistake….pay the price

    another great example was Thortons hit on Perron….how in gods name is this a “blindside” hit? Perron gets a blindside pass and looks directly behind him for it and thorton rightfully destroys him. but he does so while standing still. ALL the damage on that his is provided by Perrons own speed. Thorton coasts out of the box and braces himself and Perron drives head first into a wall and yet its “blindside”

    Having said that in cases where the player being hit does NOT put himself in harms way the suspensions should be 3 or 4 times what they are. think Patrice Bergeron or more recently Duncan Keith on Sedin. How was this only 5 games? the puck was 15 feet in the air and Keith is only seeking to take Sedins head off. this is Gross intent to injure where the head is the target. Its akin to Mcsorely on Brashear but more WWE than MLB These kids of hits are not hockey plays they are ones that ALWAYS cause severe injuries. THESE are the disgraceful plays that need to be removed.

    Rethink padding on hockey gear, leave the big hits in the game, put more onus on the players being hit and punish non-hockey plays with the hand of god.

    • The issue is that very few players who get caught with their heads low were just skating around with their heads down all shift long, blithely indifferent to their surroundings. They’re in the midst of making a pass, receiving a pass, turning, reaching for a puck, etc. They’re lowering their head to make a play, and even if they see the hit coming, they can’t just give up on the play to avoid it or brace for it. As much as the ethics of hitting demand ‘finishing your check’, the ethics of playmaking demand not allowing oneself to be intimidated out of making the right move. So no matter how much you drill into players to keep their heads up, there’s going to be times when they’re down. Now, in said situations, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to put the onus on the hitter to aim lower and focus on disrupting the play rather than demolishing the victim. That doesn’t hurt hockey tactically and it doesn’t remove contact from the game, but it recognizes that the idea that everyone can have their head up at all times is a fiction.

      • the idea that players can’t have their head up at all times is true but its about know what position you are putting yourself into when you put your head down.

        also you said “they can’t just give up on the play” but this is not correct. they CAN give up on the play to save themselves but they don’t. they take the hit to make the play. the fact that players are willing to put themselves in harms way shows that players have accepted that they will be hit and thats just part of the game. also, continuing with your idea that “they can’t just give up on the play” this should also apply to then hitter. the hitter cannot just give up on a hit because the guy he is going to hit puts himself into a bad position. Most of the time the guys throwing big hits in the NHL are roll/grit players who cannot afford to pass up big hits or else the coach will not play them. Both the hitter and the hittee COULD simply give up on the play but if they do then neither will see the ice again and that is the same mentality of Colby Armstrong. you may not WANT to crush the guy with his head down bt if you don’t then you wont play so you make the choice to punish him for putting himself in that position and in doing so you keep your position on the team

        • “the hitter cannot just give up on a hit because the guy he is going to hit puts himself into a bad position. ”

          You make it sound like throwing a hit is the only way to play defense. This is just not true. Its not a A or B situation. Its not “throw the hardest hit possible” or “turn away from all contact”. Tons of players, in fact, I would argue, MOST players, will try to get in the players way, put a body on him, disrupt his flow, poke at his stick, or any combination of those. Its so easy to interfere with someone (little i so as to not take a penalty). There are many ways to defend.

  4. I can get on board with the equipment issue. Throw NHLers back on to those old cooper shoulder pads. Want to throw your shoulder into a helmet? Go ahead, just be prepared to snap your shoulder back into place afterwards.

  5. If I were king … same-direction checking only. By which I mean, the checker must be moving in the same general direction as the puck carrier. Not stationary, not from the side, and not opposing direction … moving in the same direction. More hip checks, less concussions. And the same rules can be applied safely to all ages and all genders of players.
    It’s SUPPOSED to be a physical game, not a dangerous one.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *