There’s a terrifying trend that will hopefully become close to obsolete this 2011-12 NHL season. It’s often been said that hockey is a dangerous sport, a sport rife with both minor and major injuries. Injuries can range from a quick hit that can be resolved with an ice pack and stitches during a commercial delay to the oft-terrifying hits to the head that can leave a player’s career – and future quality of life – in serious doubt. With an increase in head injuries and concussions every season, players are sadly no strangers to the possibility of imminent danger.
The Boston Bruins roster has been on the receiving end of what many would claim as questionable hits; hits that ended a season (Marc Savard), a playoff run (Nathan Horton) or significantly delayed game participation (Patrice Bergeron and Adam McQuaid).
During the off season, the NHL implemented a no hits to the head policy. With the preseason coming to a close, they certainly now know the repercussions of committing an on ice hit to the head.
By now everyone in the hockey world is familiar with those repercussions as well. Brendan Shanahan Senior Vice President of Player Safety as appointed by Gary Bettman; has been breaking down replay videos of all the suspensions being handed out. It seems that more suspensions have come in the preseason than any other full season thus far, 9 players and 31 suspensions.
With people loving the sport for it’s aggressive nature, it could be said that Shanahan’s new approach would leave us with nothing more than a 5-on-5 ice show. Members of the Bruins organization are in support of the new ruling.
“I do like getting rid of head shots, no question,” commented Cam Neely. “It’ll be a learning curve for the players on what they have to adjust; especially if they’re a physical player.”
Players themselves are also in support, though the magnitude of the change remains somewhat unclear.
“Nothing’s really going to change too much,” commented Bruins defensemen Johnny Boychuk. “You’ve just got to be aware of what you’re doing as a player and be prepared that you might get hit.”
With the start of a new season roughly a night away, players will need to learn quickly that head shots won’t be tolerated. Hopefully the learning curve will come with the knowledge of the preseason suspensions already looming around the league’s locker rooms.