Personally, I’m a fan of Brendan Shanahan and the suspensions he’s handed out in the NHL this season. It’s a seriously tough job, and I think he’s done a good job finding the fine line of allowing players to hit and hit hard, while punishing those players who take cheap shots and put others in danger. Today he put out a video that highlights the difference between illegal checks to the head, and plain old hard hits.

I get the impression, thanks to Twitter, that people think that every time a player’s head gets touched there should be a suspension. The reality is, if the head isn’t targeted or the principle point of contact, it’s not up for suspension, because you try to throw a body check and avoid head contact entirelyThe way bodies are built makes that difficult.

Anyway, I wanted to share this so hopefully some hockey fans would gain a clearer understanding of what’s allowed, and what isn’t in the NHL.

Comments (12)

  1. Chinstraps, people! Helmet is totally useless when it’s 15′ away from where a head is about to hit ice.

  2. Well put. I feel that that most of those people that think suspensions should be handed out like free food at a soup kitchen are what I like to call “super fans”. Obviously these fans are bias, and want the best results or “justice” for the team and its players. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for safety and the well being of the players, and I am glad the league is trying to crack down on what is legal or cheap. But, as a society I feel we are moving in the direction of being too cautious. Ultimately causing people to lose focus that big hits are part of the game and make it exciting. Ol’ time hockey as some like to say.

  3. I like this video with the clear explanations. What I still don’t understand is the Rick Nash hit where he delivered an elbow to his opponents head from behind. Is that not a targeted hit? Especially after Vancouver’s Janick Hansen received a 1-game suspension for a similar play? Am I just bitter a Canucks fan or do I have a valid point?

  4. im having trouble watching the NHL video, so I can’t really comment on Shanny’s video.

    The reality is, if the head isn’t targeted or the principle point of contact, it’s not up for suspension, because you try to throw a body check and avoid head contact entirely. The way bodies are built makes that difficult.

    I believe we need to start changing the way we ask people to hit. I believe we need to teach players to think about how they hit so that they don’t put the person being hit in unnecessarily risky position of getting hit in the head. So while it might be true that if the head isn’t “targeted”, its not suspendable under current rules. I am saying that needs to change. I am saying we need to come down harsher on hits where it is likely the head will get hit, even if its not intended to hit the head, because we need to make players think twice about hitting guys in vulnerable positions.

    Will it change the way the game is played? Of course it will. Will it take out some of the “big” open ice hits that lots of people love? Of course it will. Will people still get head injuries no matter how hard we try to stop them and even if we ban all hitting completely? Of course they will. But if we want to do everything we can to limit the loss of players brains, and put the best overall product on the ice, we need to change the way we look at hitting to the head.

    • The video goes like this: clean hits are people getting frieght-trained. Kronwalled to the max. Full body contact is the key. The bad hits are when heads get “picked”.

      Here is a clean one from the video:
      Here is a dirty one from the video:

      • yeah i sure hope he gave more than 1 example of each. But I dont have an issue with the first hit – it looks like Neil’s arms are down and he make contact with the chest. I do question the value of the hit, though in that case, it does look like the puck is there when the hit is made [too often people throw hits way late, in my view, which has no purpose]

  5. Two things:

    1. with all of the interest in reducing concussions and the many recent articles arguing for the removal of hard hits in favor of just “separating” guys from the puck, i can see why so many people think that every big hit deserves supplemental discipline these days. There’s a revived concern for player safety, and with that you’re going to get the pendulum swinging too far the other way.

    2. this video was unbearable to watch with the sound muted.

  6. I just have a hard time believing that players who can redirect 100+ mph shots with a three inch wide stick and the other things that they do at full speed, can’t control where their elbows or other body parts are going at full speed… if they want to. If the league really wants to reduce concussions, intent shouldn’t matter; control should. If players were focused on controlling where their body parts went rather than ‘finishing’ their checks, then hard hits could still happen with reduced head contact (and some other unnecessary injuries).

    • I could spend time arguing the difference between deflecting pucks and controlling your elbows at the final sec of impact but i wont. Suffice to say, I believe most guys can and do control their elbows, but some times, you can do everything right and still wind up making contact with your elbow or their head. It happens (you’re not the only person moving and making decisions). However, i disagree somewhat with your statement that intent shouldn’t matter. It should. What shouldn’t matter is the level of injury sustained. The league needs to start assessing supplemental discipline regardless of of the severity of the injury. Just because a guy gets lucky and isn’t concussed, or doesn’t break his neck, doesn’t mean the penalty should be any less severe.

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