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.
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.
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.