Montreal - Every year, hockey fans have the opportunity to watch one of the greatest, if not the greatest, sports on earth.
It is a high paced game where players must have eyes all around their head to see where would be the best position to receive or deliver a pass but also to make sure that they are not vulnerable to a check.
On Saturday night, when the Detroit Red Wings were visiting the Montreal Canadiens, fans witnessed a cheap hit delivered to Kronwall by Habs' enforcer Georges Laraque. The puck was in Detroit's defensive zone when Kronwall delivered a pass to his winger passed big Georges. Laraque didn't want to get caught out of position and allow Detroit to get an odd man rush. In order to avoid that Laraque stuck out his knee and took out Kronwall's knee. On the same sequence the referee already raised his arm for a high-sticking call against who? Laraque! To top it off, the high stick drew blood so on the same shift, Laraque took a 4-minute penalty for high sticking and a 2-minute penalty for the knee shot.
There has been many debates about dirty hits like these; not to mention hits to the head.
The question is: What should the NHL do to punish those hits in a way that players will really think before delivering a hit?
There has been a few solutions to this but non of them will prevent these hits to occur. Lets look at the possibilities.
The simple suspension is currently in place but it is obviously NOT the right way. You have a player hitting another and take that player out with a concussion that will leave him out for weeks, if not months, or, god forbid, end that player's career. The hitter gets what? 2? 5? 10 games suspension? The punishment does not match the crime.
2. Suspension + Fine
Pretty much the same as a simple suspension, but adding an incremental fine for each offense.
3. Suspension for multiple offense
Cheap hits by players known to be dirty should be punished with increments in number of games suspension.
First offense: To the discretion of the league
Second offense: A minimum of 20 games
Third offense: 82 games suspension carrying over the the following season
Fourth offense: League ban
4. Matching the amount of missed games by the injured player
Basically, this is probably the best way. If you injure a player and that player is out for the rest of the season, too bad, the hitting player is out for the same amount of time. So if you end a player's career, your career is over too.
The thing is that no matter how the NHL handles the problem, there will always be dirty hits. The good news is if the NHL puts its pants and amend the current rule book, players will think really hard before hitting another player.
Just imagine Ovechkin or Crosby hitting a player and take that player out for a few weeks.
I'd rather see rules like the goalie zone behind the net or preventing d-men to take out a player in front of the net disappear.
The ball is on the NHL's hands and lets hope they will do something about it before we see someone die on the ice with a head shot or a boarding hit.
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