Athletes, as you may be aware, don’t seem to be afraid to use every conceivable advantage that they have at their disposal to help themselves and/or their team win. Whether that means jamming a needle in their backside, putting vaseline on a baseball, or cutting a hole in the palm of their hockey glove so the ref can’t see them holding their opponents, they’ll do it.

With that in mind, I pose a question to you: am I crazy, or are we see way more players going down after being hit in that spinny, “I was just on the receiving end of a head shot” kind of way? It used to happen occasionally, but it seems that lately it’s a nightly event.

For some reason this seemed relevant…

Obviously, I just skated on thin ice with that – I’m not accusing any of our recent spinners (Justin Abdelkader or Chris Campoli) of diving/embellishing, but it was those two hits that made that thought pop into my head. Why does it seem like I’m seeing those hits more than I used to? It seems like the rate increase is too high to just be that I’m more aware of them now.

Logically, you would think that the frequent discussion and suspension of head shots has helped limit the number of times they’re occuring, especially in the wake of Brendan Shannabans (very just) pre-season suspension rampage. But it still seems, there we find ourselves again, another night of games, another hit to review.

Could it be possible – and I skate to thinner ice very gingerly on this – that “head shot awareness” has made players more aware of a way to draw a major penalty?

Let’s assume that there have been at least one or two instances in the past couple years where someone has exaggerated a “head shot,” because we’re not idiots and we acknowledge, once again, that athletes will use all sorts of tricks to help put their teams ahead. In those one or two hypothetical but likely instances, it wouldn’t be that the guys didn’t get hit. It’s that they didn’t get hit hard, maybe not even hard enough to go down.

But, if you use the momentum from being clipped and allow your body to spin, suddenly you’ve gone from a turnover and a scolding from coach to a nice, long powerplay. Hockey players have the best core strength of all pro-athletes – I find it hard to believe some of the spinning we’re seeing couldn’t be minimized if they weren’t trying to make something good out of a bad situation.

Right now, headshots are like those few taboo things in our society you’re not allowed to make jokes about, and rightfully so. They’re a very serious problem. There’s no place to say “I’m not so sure that he really took a classic ‘head shot’ there,” for fear of being perceived as a violence-mongering monster, especially by the fans of the player on the receiving end.

Admittedly less relevant. But I mean, it is a hit, and the guy looks like he’s spinning, so…nevermind.

But I think Brendan Shannahan’s latest ruling made something clear – he’s not going to be a sucker for every spin. Campoli may have been on the receiving end of a play that should have resulted in a suspension, he may well have taken the brunt of a full on head shot….I dunno. That’s not the debate here.

Whatever your stance on the Campoli play is, the positive that you can take from it is that it appears Shannahan truly is going to look at each case judiciously because, as an ex-player, he knows that embellishment is possible on these plays.

Everyone thinks Shanny is doing a bang-up job so far, and I agree. Well, everyone but the suspended I guess. But that’s only because they were the one’s doing a bang-up job in the first place.

Comments (9)

  1. If you’re seperrated from the puck what payoff for a players is there by keeping your feet? Would any modern player not fold like a tent if they tried to do what Mario did in this clip?

    • Would any modern player not fold? Perhaps, although that much hooking would definitely be a penalty, whether he kept going or not.

      But anyways how many modern players can actually do that? How many players in NHL history could do that? The Rocket, sure, but who else was that strong, resiliant and determined, while also having that eye for the net and the speed needed?

      Mario retired early for a reason. He hated the way the NHL was becoming, all clutch and grab. Perhaps Crosby would have retired early because of concussions, or a desire to avoid getting any more.

      So what’s better? A clutch and grab game where nobody but the best can score, vs one where players embellish? A dangerous game filled with head hunters, or one where players embellish? I’ll take the embellishing any day.

      But on another note, what will it take for the NHL to suspend a player for intentionally hurting a Montreal player? A broken neck? …oh…wait…

  2. Absolutely Dario, we’re on the same page. Most guys today would’ve taken a knee by center ice and tried to cash in on the PP.

  3. Easy… put accelerometers in the back of the helmet, and one on each elbow and schoulder pads…
    I’m kidding… sort of… but that would be great data for motion capture people.

  4. Video games would RULE with that data.

    • And I honestly think you could make a difference between real and fake spins, it would take a bit of tweaking but that would be a dream project for an NHL crazy engineering student.
      AND the data would be gold for concussion experts, too.

  5. Maybe Shanahan will start handing out scores with his suspensions.

    “I’m suspending Clarke MacArthur for the remainder of the preseason and 2 regular season games, in addition I give Justin Abdelkader a 5.5 on his rotation”

  6. Kevin Smith – Sure makes you appreciate Mario more, hey? I mean, whatever your stance on the embellishment vs. obstruction thing is.

    Dirty Dangle – it could be the new tiebreaker in the standings, sold.

  7. I suppose by now the eyes have moved on, but while reviewing Shannahan’s video on the Malone hit, it occurred to me that there may be a good reason why we see more spinners than previously. In the video explanation of the rule changes released to the players, Shannahan stresses in a couple of examples that the player either lets up or does not let up on a vulnerable opponent. He stresses that this CAN be factored into determining whether a suspension is warranted or not.

    You’re a hockey player, you zero in on an opponent to check. You take a couple of strides, plant your feet, lower your shoulder and… “Uh-oh”, the target just turned his back or lowered his head, “Abort! Abort! Abort!”

    What do you do? You turn, you try to minimize contact. If it is too late to completely avoid the player, what happens? You ‘clip’ them with a glancing blow.

    Result – they spin.

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