The “new” head hit rule is better, but still stupid.
The history, as far as is relevant, is that for YEARS commentators, on-ice officials and league office dorks have been saying “we are trying to cut back on head hits” but they never put in a rule. You would hear Jim Fox explain why something was or was not a penalty because the “league is looking to crack down on head hits and lessen concussions” but there was never a rule. Then they put in this stupid “lateral blind side” language, added some tough-guy sounding “north/south” language and announced the problem solved. Until some guy got his clock cleaned behind the net on a clear hit from the blind side and the dopes said it’s OK cause that’s a “hitting zone”. To which, anyone paying attention said “Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat?”
Now they have taken out “lateral blindside” and “north south” and say all purposeful head hits are illegal.
OK, great! Why didn’t you say that 10 years ago. But nevermind, finally you got it right.
Wait. The NHL is too stupid to leave it at that. They “anticipate” the situation where someone falls awkwardly or changes direction and gets hit in the head … and they don’t want that to be a penalty so they’ve added language saying you can call a head hit legal if the player put himself in the position to be hit in the head.
I repeat … WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAT????
You don’t need that. You said “purposeful” head hits (or they said intentional, whatever). The ref has discretion already to say “he didn’t target the head, he targeted the shoulder and you fell”. You don’t need that extra language, and you just watch. The first concussion that occurs when a guy hits a guy in the head from right in front of him is going to get ruled legal because the guy “put himself in that position”. The team with the offending player is gonna send 3 lawyers to make Brendan Shanahan let the player off the hook and we will be back to re-writing the rule.
It’s really very simple. If you want to eliminate or greatly reduce head hits period, make them illegal, regardless of intent. If you want to reduce intentional head hits and allow “accidental” ones, then make intentional head hits illegal. There is not any more to it that that, and the more convoluted you make the rule, the stupider and more inconsistent it gets enforced.
My opinion is that an open ice hit to the shoulder, torso, waist …. that’s hockey and it’s a check and it’s legal. Hitting a guy in the head should not be. What is the benefit to players, fans or the league of seeing guys knocked out cold? Nothing, unless you just like seeing guys get fucked up. And if that is what it’s all about, go watch MMA.
Make it like high-sticking. If you have to be responsible for where your stick goes, you have to be responsible for what part of the body you hit. Any check to the head is a penalty.
Here’s the text I got off TSN.CA. Stupidity:
A penalty for an illegal check to the head will be assessed for a hit resulting in contact with an opponent’s head where the head is targeted and the principal point of contact. The qualifying terms “lateral or blind side” for such hits have been deleted.
A hit resulting in contact with an opponent’s head where the head is targeted and the principal point of contact is not permitted. However, in determining whether such a hit should have been permitted, the circumstances of the hit, including whether the opponent put himself in a vulnerable position immediately prior to or simultaneously with the hit or the head contact on an otherwise legal body check was unavoidable, can be considered.