April 11, 2011

Old Time Hockey - I Love it and So Should You !!!

There is no question that the number of concussions in the NHL has risen at an alarming rate in the past few years. Players are retiring early and missing significant time due to high and harmful hits. One can’t help but wonder why now? Why is this becoming such an issue now with all of the advances in technology and safety in the game? Sure, players are bigger and stronger than they ever have been before and the game is played at a speed that is like nothing we have seen in the past. There is definitely some correlation between concussions and the reasons I just listed.
Something else that has surfaced in the last couple of years to add to the number of concussions is the fact that the NHL has gone soft. There are virtually no fighters left in the NHL and the game has lost that physicality that made our sport so great in the first place and separated us from the rest. Players are hitting opponents in more compromising positions because they can. There aren’t the Stu Grimson’s or Tony Twist’s on a team anymore to police the ice when things like this happen. I’m the last person that is for “gooning” a game up, but I do believe that players have to be responsible for what they do on the ice. The game has to police itself just as much as the refs police it. When a player throws a hit on someone and get their elbows up, they need to answer the bell. Sure, the power-play is nice.  After all, you would always rather hurt the opposing team on the scoreboard. Tough guys cannot make it in this league anymore unless they can play. Rick Rypien and Chris Neil are two great examples of players that can hold their own in both aspects of the game, but guys like that are few and far between.

The Instigator Rule has really changed a lot of things in the NHL today, some for the better and some for the worse. The Instigator Rule is a good thing when you see guys throw solid perfectly clean shoulder checks and someone tries to fight him for it. When games get out of control on the scoreboard resulting in heightened tempers like we saw with the Penguins and Islanders;  the Instigator Rule comes in handy to calm things down.
The reality of it all is that everything in life is a give and take and the NHL is no exception. If you are going to try and phase out fighting and goons in Hockey, guys like Matt Cooke and Cal Clutterbuck are going to run around and take shots at players in compromising positions. The way they are handling it now is with disciplinary action and I think it’s making our game too soft. The other night, Raffi Torres threw a high hit on Jordan Eberle and I don’t think he was trying to give him a blow to the head. A guy like Raffi plays the game with reckless abandonment and has to finish every check on every shift to earn a paycheck. When you play the game at this speed, your hands are going to get up occasionally and a player is going to take a head shot occasionally. What makes our sport so great is the ability to make a player be responsible for his actions by dropping the gloves. Players will be a lot more likely to keep their hands down after going toe to toe with Bob Probert than having a conference call with the league office.
By:  Nick Dreyer

1 comment:

  1. How can you lump Cal Clutterbuck in with Matt Cooke? Clutterbuck hits hard, but 99% of the time he is simply finishing a check, and finishing it hard and NOT with his elbows or to an opponents head. Matt Cooke is almost always out to hurt some one.