The players aren’t listening to all the talk about head shots. James Wisniewski proved that last night with his hit on Brent Seabrook, and became another in a long list of players who aren’t paying attention.
So what is the best solution to get these hits out of the game?
I’ve been guilty of thinking that the getting rid of the instigator rule would solve it, and while I still think it’s a dumb rule, I don’t think that would do enough. There are very few players who would be willing jump a player in today’s game, so getting rid of the instigator might make a few guys think twice. But I don’t think it would have the effect necessary to get guys to stop taking head shots.
Many think a suspension is the answer. Make it a minimum three-gamer for a first offence, six games the second time, and 12 games the third and so on. That could work, but I still don’t think it will have the desired results.
The league needs to make it costly for the player and their team. Make a head-shot a seven minute penalty. You can add on the suspension and fine if you like.
Why seven minutes?
Because the players will have to answer to their teammates and their coach. Most players are more worried about how they are perceived within their own team than if the league takes a chunk out of their wallet.
I was chatting with Edmonton Oilers Captain Ethan Moreau and he was the one who suggested that a seven minute penalty would make guys think twice.
“A minor penalty isn’t enough to deter a guy from making a bad decision now and then, but you make it seven minutes, that could turn a game around and guys would think about that when they are about to deliver a hit”.
Moreau’s suggestion makes a lot of sense.
A head shot has to be perceived as more dangerous than a major penalty, because it is. You can have ACL surgery, rotator cuff surgery, even back surgery, but they’ve yet to come up with a surgery for concussions. You can’t repair the brain like the most of the ligaments in our body, so why not make a hit to the most important part the body more severe?
Moreau went on to say that coaches wouldn’t play guys who had one or two “seven-minute” penalties. The best way to make a player pay attention is to take away his ability to play.
A three or five game suspension won’t do it. The player misses some money and gets to chill out for a few games, but the team still gets to dress 18 skaters.
A seven-minute penalty carries much more weight and it would get the players attention.
I don’t think it changes the game very much, but it will get the players attention, because they clearly aren’t listening.