Daniel Carcillo. Brad Marchand. Andy Sutton. What do these names and many more have in common? They have all been suspended for checking from behind, boarding, charging, illegal contact to the head, elbowing… and so on. Twenty-six NHL players have been suspended so far in the 2011-2012 season, and twenty-five of those suspensions have been due to illegal hits. Illegal hits are a clear issue, and need to be resolved due to the safety concerns of players.
New NHL chief of player Brendan Shanahan has handed out five more suspensions in his first year than Colin Campbell handed out at this time (Jan. 25th) last season. Although the NHL has been stricter this year, it doesn’t seem to prevent players from laying out dirty hits.
So what will prevent players from laying out these dangerous hits? Yes, in nature, hockey is one of, if not the most physical game in the world of sports today, and it would not be the same if the NHL suddenly stripped certain hits and checks.
Yet, the only logical solution to preventing dangerous hits is to impose stricter punishments. Have players serve 10 games instead of a nominal three or four games. Force them to take multiple hours of community service. Make players to shell out double or triple the standard $2,500 fine. By using these techniques, the NHL disciplinary board will have players thinking twice before they check a player from behind.
This is a decision the NHL needs to make, for the safety concerns of their own players. With Brendan Shanahan as new chief of discipline, we can expect stricter punishments on illegal hits now and in the future. Hits in the NHL are a part of the game and have been for the past 94 years. Yet, illegal hits are not. After all, the last thing we want to see is another Steve Moore. Or Paul Kariya. Or Marc Savard…