At Sinclair today, a student saw my Bruins' coat and asked if I had seen the hit on Marc Savard. Yes, I have. You have to be under a rock with regards to hockey matters to not have seen it and the outcry that came from it. However, I hadn't invested much thought into it until I heard Mike Milbury's comments during the Chicago-Washington game on Monday.
I'm a firm believer in the idea that hockey is a man's game, and that, if you don't want to get hit, you shouldn't be playing. However, I don't think that a hit with career-ending potential should be considered a "clean hit", and should be made an illegal hit ASAP.
In regards to the Savard hit: A stick to the head is a penalty. A fist to the head is a penalty. An elbow to the head is a penalty. A player headbutting another playing is an automatic major penalty. Marc Savard was intentionally hit in the head with a shoulder. WHY isn't THAT a penalty? Sorry, Mr. Milbury, but the league is right that this hit needs to be a penalty.
Todd Bertuzzi was suspended for a year for slamming another player head against the ice with his forearm during a fall. What's your opinion on that, Mr. Milbury? A deliberate, heavy blow to the head, irregardless of implement needs to be a penalty.
In defending his position, Mr. Milbury pointed out a hit by Alex Ovechkin on Jaromir Jagr that no one thought twice about. Ovechkin placed his shoulder in Jagr's chest. It was hard, but Jagr got right back up and played on. That's why no one called foul on it. It wasn't a head shot. Savard was hit in the head, Jagr wasn't. That's what makes this different.
One comment that Mr. Milbury did make was that the league should be looking into equipment issues to provide better protection. I agree with him on that point. Many concussions and other head injuries have resulted from heads hitting the ice or hitting the boards on otherwise clean hits. NHL, step up, let's do some research on better helments.
And in case anyone thinks I'm a softy because somebody got hurt, here's a point for you. In Sunday's game, Alex Ovechkin was called for boarding and was given a 5-min major and a game misconduct. Boarding means hitting from behind knocking the player into the boards. Bogus call. Campbell was injured on the play, and was out for at least the remainder of the game. However, seeing a replay, Ovechkin didn't hit Campbell. He PUSHED him, from the SIDE, into the boards. If Campbell's skate hadn't caught a rut in the ice, it would have been just another hockey hit. But that's what I meant by needing better helmets. The head injury was incidental. But due to the injury, the ref tossed Ovechkin. I hope that ref was shown the replay and chewed out for that mistaken call.