Sidney Crosby, Mike Green and Why the NHL Needs To Change Headshot Rules

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Sidney Crosby, Mike Green and Why the NHL Needs To Change Headshot Rules
Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

Sidney Crosby, the poster boy for the NHL and perhaps the greatest hockey player on the planet, is not the only player that has suffered a severe injury due to a head shot. 

Mike Green, defenseman for the Washington Capitals, is another NHL star who took a hit to the head and has missed several games because of this injury. 

Crosby suffered a blindside hit from Capitals' forward David Steckel in this year's Winter Classic in Pittsburgh. Steckel was not given a penalty.

Four days later on January 5, Crosby was checked into the boards by Victor Hedman in a home game against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Hedman was given a two-minute minor penalty for checking.

The very next day, he was placed on the Injured Reserve List and has now missed 26 games for the injury-plagued Penguins.

Now, more then two months after he was placed on the IR, a time line for Crosby's return has still not been set. 

On February 25, Mike Green chased down a loose puck next to the boards early in the first period. Derek Stepan of the New York Rangers lowered his shoulder into the head of Mike Green on a clearly illegal hit and went on with the play unpenalized.

Mike Green has now missed four games and according to head coach Bruce Boudreau, he will still be sitting out "a couple weeks."

This season is the inaugural season that Rule 48 is being enforced. Rule 48 states that "a lateral or blindside hit to the opponent where the head is targeted and/or the principle point of contact is not permitted."

For a complete explanation of Rule 48, visit http://www.nhl.com/ice/page.htm?id=64063

Although this new rule is cleaning up parts of the game by decreasing dangerous hits, it must be changed.

Rule 48 must be altered in a way that players who commit these illegal hits must be given a more serious punishment.

A harsher multigame suspension must be enforced to clean up these hits once and for all.

By no means am I saying the players who commit these hits should be suspended 20-30 games, but only sitting out one or two games after being issued a game misconduct because of these horrendous hits seems very inconsequential. 

What if every player knew that they would receive a serious suspension for these illegal hits prior to the season? What if every single player knew that if they delivered a head shot like the ones that have been giving opposing players these prolonged injuries, they would have to sit out numerous games?

Do you think Sidney Crosby would have still suffered two blindsided hits that have cost him over 20 games this season? Do you think Derek Stepan would have still lowered his shoulder into Mike Green's head?

If the league would change the rule so that players are aware of the punishment they would receive if they chose to commit the dangerous hits that I am talking about, the number of blindsided or cheap hits that are placing many players on the IR would decrease drastically.

Sidney Crosby was having one of the best seasons a hockey player has ever had in the NHL. Before being injured, he scored 32 goals and recorded 66 points. He was a shoo-in for MVP and it looked very promising that he was going to lead the Penguins back to the Stanley Cup Finals.

Mike Green has been one of the Capitals' most consistent defenders and is one of the key players on the Washington team for them to finally make a deep run into the playoffs.

Because of this poorly enforced rule, Sidney Crosby, Mike Green and many other players have missed high number of games due to blindsided hits.

Recently, New York Islanders forward Trevor Gillies was given a 10-game suspension due to a malicious hit. Hopefully, this is a sign that the NHL is going to do the right thing.

This rule needs to be changed in order for players to have less risk of suffering a very serious injury. 

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