A way to get a”head” of Basketball

Hockey has the potential to be in rarified air this winter.  If all plays out, it will be the only major sport actually taking the playing field.  And sitting pretty comfortably in fourth in those major sport standings, ground can be made in the American sports fan’s eyes.

But there are obstacles in the way and foremost among those is the head injuries.  To compare hockey against football, the other sport fighting these injuries, football is working in the right direction, while hockey is not.

While football is starting to take away games from the players, hockey is sitting idly by.  For example, notorious head-hunter James Harrison drew a suspension last season for a helmet-to-helmet hit while David Steckel hit an unsuspecting Sidney Crosby away from play and got nothing.

In this, we’ll look at the case of the Crosby hit for two reasons.  It exemplifies the head injury case perfectly.  First, it caused lots of time to be missed and was a hit that had almost no reason to occur.  Second reason is that Crosby is the face of the NHL, and to lose him hurts the league significantly.

First off, the reaction by the league is astonishing.  While I commend them for not singling any player as more important than any other and finally reacting to this one, it’s confusing that Gary Bettman wouldn’t protect his most prized player.  Not only is Crosby the most famous face, he was in the midst of a magnificent season.  He held a substantial lead in the points race and seemed to be a lock for the Hart.  Not to mention he and Malkin were going to have the Penguins be a major factor down the stretch and in the end, this hit robbed both of the potential final results.

Second is the nature of the actual hit.  Earlier in the week leading up to the Winter Classic, Crosby was shaken up and the Caps knew this, and while I don’t think the intent was to put someone’s career into serious jeopardy, this hit reeks of premeditation.  They looked to cut the head (pun intended) off the Pens and they did exactly that.  If you watch the video, the puck goes past Crosby and he turns his head back to find it and continues skating forward.  And about three seconds after the puck passes, aka when the action is well down the ice, Steckel blindsides Crosby.  The hit is jarring and nothing comes of it.

This problem really stems from the league’s inconsistency in terms of discipline.  Sometimes the league is too harsh and sometimes too lenient.  But almost never in the middle.  And it seems they pick a punishment from a hat.

My suggestion is to establish a policy much like the NFL’s.  Shoulder or forearm to the head with any inkling of intent, should be three to four games first time.  Repeat offenders would get harsher and harsher penalties. The only way to try to fix this problem is to come down hard on the players and/or teams.  Make the players think twice about going for a kill shot.

Hockey will soon find out that people don’t want just brutality and if they do, they’ll watch MMA instead.  Make the game interesting with goals, sweet saves and nifty passes, not goons chasing each other down.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a good John Scott beatdown, but I’d rather see a Patrick Sharp one timer from Jonathon Toews to win a game any day of the week.  Give the people something to clamor over and you’ll make the most of this opportunity.

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About angus5554
Senior sports communication major at Bradley University. Lifelong White Sox fan and recent convert to the ways of hockey and the Blackhawks. Big fan of television and sucker for Judd Apatow movies. Even bigger fan of new age rock music. Meeting Dave Grohl is a lifelong dream.

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