It’s been nice to see two days of hockey go by without anyone getting seriously injured, really great change of pace for these playoffs and with news that Raffi Torres has been suspended 25 games for his hit on Marian Hossa, you’d think that the NHL was getting serious about preventing further violence. You’d think.
I’ve seen lots of ideas bandied about by People Who Are Smarter Than MeTM on how to cut down on head shots so, naturally, I thought that I’d throw out an idea of my own. I know, you’ve all been waiting with baited breath. I had the idea whilst browsing the Twitter and saw my esteemed editor, Justin Bourne (a board member of People Who Are Smarter Than MeTM) mention that the best way to curb players from doing anything is to make the punishment one that would hurt the team as that’s the last thing any player wants to do. Bourne suggested that if a player is suspended, the team should not be allowed to replace them on the bench for the remainder of their suspension. A good, practical idea. However, guys like Dan Boyle and Duncan Keith are already playing 30 minutes a game. These are professional athletes and coaches, they’d be able to adapt and find a way to make this work, especially in the playoffs when guys are total workhorses at all times (oh God, that sounded like something Pierre McGuire would say. I’VE BECOME EVERYTHING I HATE.)
“Okay, then, what’s your idea,” you ask? Good question, disembodied voice, I’ll tell you. I think that soccer has it right. And yes, that is the first time I’ve ever said that so you win, The Footy Blog. In soccer, if a player gets tossed, his team plays a man down for the remainder of the match. I like this. It has an immediate impact and would totally devastate the team, a potential 59-minute penalty kill. They’d be screwed. Unfortunately, in hockey, this is impossible.
This model works well with soccer and it’s stretched out fields and 11 guys a side and its “half back passes to the center, back to the wing, back to the center, center holds it, holds it, holds it…” (this actually happens in hockey too, but only when Tomas Kaberle is manning a power play). While applying this to hockey would be insane, it’s less the specific plan and more the idea behind it. It’s that immediate impact that’s important. Players are getting damn near killed and the immediate result is a 5-minute power play. That’s just not enough; it doesn’t hurt the team so badly that players will think twice about throwing their shoulder into someone’s face. What we need to see is a change in penalty rules – get tossed, double major. We need double majors. A ten-minute power play would unequivocally change the pace of the game and could change an entire playoff series. No guy wants to be the one who let down his team so badly that they had to play shorthanded for a full 10, hung out to dry and exhausted. Let’s see it happen, NHL. Is it just me or is this so crazy it’s starting to make sense?
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