Here we are 10 games into the NHL season and already people have begun irrational debating over what is considered a clean hit in hockey. The Mike Richards hit on David Booth has been the most hotly contested debate over the past few days; evidently the NHL viewing public is split on the topic.
Last Saturday night, David Booth, of the Florida Panthers, cut across the Flyers blue line late in the second period, then dropped a fine pass to Stephen Weiss. Booth followed the pass with his eyes and Richards met him with a shoulder square in the head.
I’ve watched the video of this hit multiple times now and I’m still trying to see where Richards went wrong. I'm either blind, or I don’t know the rules, because I clearly see a clean hit —a vicious one, yes—but not illegal within the rules of the NHL.
Many people seem to be accepting of the check Richards planted on Booth, but it seems just as many people are upset with it. Now, I’m wondering if the people who are in fact opposed to the hit are actual hockey fans, or just the general public who are against any form of violent acts?
Hockey has forever been a rough and very often violent game; colossal hits and fighting are nothing new to the NHL, that’s why I ask who these panicky, broken up people are?
Now, having said that, I’m not a bloodthirsty fan that takes pleasure in seeing players getting injured on the ice, but hockey is the fastest and most intense game there is. Unfortunately players will get injured, Booth was not the first this season and he most certainly will not be the last player we see laying on the ice.
Nonetheless, I do feel that we can reduce injuries, and that the league should be continuously working towards protecting the players. But if we keep blowing our tops every single time a player gets hurt from being checked, then we may as well retire the game altogether.
Scott Stevens made hits very similar to the one Richards placed on Saturday night throughout his two decades of play. Stevens essentially ended the career of Eric Lindros with a much more corrupt check. Stevens was consistently praised for hits like this, not to mention being given a place in the hall of fame.
Colin Campbell was quoted saying “there is a responsibility by the player getting hit by a legal check that he has to have his head up and avoid it."
Mike Richards kept his elbow tight to his body, he didn’t leave his feet, and he made the hit within an appropriate time of puck possession. I feel sympathetic towards Booth getting so badly injured, but not bad enough to start talking rule changes when it involves hitting.
The people who believe that it was a dirty hit also must believe they are more qualified to do Colin Campbell's job.
I know one thing that will definitely be coming from this controversy, and that’s David Booth never cutting through the opposing blue line with his head down again.