Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Head shots high on the mind, but not necessarily the agenda

With the vision of Boston Bruin Marc Savard laid out on the ice and then taken by stretcher off of it still fresh in their minds, the NHL's high executives met in conclave in Florida on Monday taking part  in the leagues annual general manager's meetings.

And while Mr. Savard's health may have been the talk around the coffee machine at the hotel, once the GM's gathered for their first session the latest incident of on ice injury was put aside while the GM's watched a compilation report on the issue of head shots and concussions.

The desire to keep the physical nature of the sport as a key component. is causing some troubles for the GM's who are having difficulties in interpreting when a  hit to the head is a pre-meditated event or one where it's the by product of the angle of the play, as well as the speed of the participants and their own physical size.

It's a topic that seems to split not only GM"s but players as well, no doubt the dividing line most likely being those that tend to give out the crushing hits that sometimes result in a shot to the head, and those on the unfortunate end of the process.

Still, the growing list of the injured should be something of concern for a league that needs as many skilled players to showcase that skill as possible, while no one wants to see the body check taken out of the game, the ancillary activities of the cross check or driven elbow to the head must surely be eliminated or at least punished far more forecfully than it is at the moment.

The two week Olympic window of hockey featured some fine crushing checks that fans love to see, but also showcased the speed and skill of the players in a manner that hasn't been seen very often.

The skilled players need space to perform as well, something that isn't available when being levelled by an elbow or stick timed for maximum damage, hopefully by the time the three day examination of all things NHL is complete, the GM's will have an overview for us as to what they wish to see in the game and how they plan to protect it's most valuable asset, the player.

Globe and Mail-- Cooke forced to wait on possible suspension
Globe and Mail-- Players split opinions on head shots
Globe and Mail-- A shot to the head
National Post-- Up to the NHL to lay down the law on headshots
National Post-- Headshot concerns reach fever pitch around NHL
National Post-- NHL might finally address severity of head shots
Toronto Star-- Controversy over head shots rages but answers elusive
Toronto Star-- Leafs’ Phaneuf urges NHL not to cut out ‘clean hits’
Toronto Star-- Jason Smith recalls how concussions ended career
Boston Globe-- Savard diagnosed with Grade 2 concussion
Boston Herald-- Hit should net ban
Boston Herald-- Marc Savard fuzzy on details
Pittsburgh Post Gazette-- Cooke trying to reach Bruins' Savard
Pittsburgh Tribune Review-- Cooke's hit could fuel debate

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