No sport is perfect. Injuries are a fact of life when you play hockey, one of the fastest, most physical games on the planet. Unfortunately, that all changes when an injury is caused by a check from behind, a deliberate and dangerous hit, that is usually unnecessary, and often carries major consequences.
Checks from behind were slowly becoming commonplace before the NHL had it’s Christmas break. One Chicago Blackhawks reporter dubbed the weeks leading up to the holiday “The 12 Days of Suspensions”, as it seemed that every morning, Brendan Shanahan would crack down on a hit from the night before.
Unfortunately with this problem, it is entirely the players fault, and also the player that serves the consequence. Technology can only go so far, and only so many rules can be made, before hockey becomes a complex web of things to avoid while trying to win the game for your team. Time is running out, before a player slams into the boards, and leaves the ice for the final time, unable to continue their hockey career, or worse.
The NHL had their annual winter GM meetings in Pebble Beach just days before checks from behind started trending. It was at those meetings just a few years ago, that the league found a way to curb the “headshot” problem that saw star players such as Sidney Crosby sidelined for months at a time. Although that time has passed now, it shows that problems like these can be taken care of, with the meeting of representatives.
The only way many see this situation continuing is the increase in suspension length. Players such as David Clarkson of the Toronto Maple Leafs (who at one time in December, had more games served due to suspension than goals) will learn from their mistakes, and be much more selfless about their fellow players, even if they are on the other team. However, the only way that the whole league would take notice at once, would be a tragedy such as a player being paralyzed.
It is a sad truth, and fans of any NHL team hope that it doesn’t come to that.
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