The NHL recently suspended the Coyote's captain Shane Doan for 3 games in response to a hit delivered to the head of Duck's forward Dan Sexton. The hit can be seen here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OgaxOAGcM6w
In case you were wondering, yes I did just teach myself how to create a link. Just to save you loyal readers (still three, I believe) a few clicks. You're welcome.
I counted two seconds. Go back and watch, and count how long the puck is off Sexton's stick before he catches a shoulder across the side of the face. Now rewind that, and watch what the honorable Shane Doan is looking at while the play is developing. At no point does he seem particularly interested in where the puck is. Sexton passes the puck. Doan's head doesn't follow the play. He hoans in on Sexton and clips him. That was the intent from the time Doan's squad turned the puck over in the O-zone on forward. He was a heat seeking missile, regardless of where the puck or play was.
Good play Shane. Stay classy.
There are two arguments I can see stemming from the league's suspension of Doan. I'll address them both.
1. Finish your hits. I get it. I love hockey, probably more than you do it that's your honest thought. This isn't 1967 and players are no longer normal size. These are athletes, to degrees we hard working folk can't understand, and hit way harder these days than we can fathom.
There is the flow of the game. And then there are rules - rules that have been implemented to keep everybody safe. Not just the guy you're blindsiding. But you too.
Hitting is a part of the game. I know. I... I know. How's this for a hit? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3KJm-qcnnC0 That's the ticket. The defenseman, in this case Nick Kronwall, read the play, stepped up, and crushed Havlat who was staring at his feet. Kornwall didn't leave his feet. He hit a player head on who had his head down. Doan didn't do that. Doan came from the side, had zero intention of following the puck, play, or money considering it will cost him around 70 grand, and leveled another player who didn't know he was there.
Now, obviously Havlat didn't see the hit coming, but that is because he had his head down. (How old was he during that game anyway? 12? Isn't that the first thing they teach you?) Sexton, on the other hand, was watching the play develop after making a pass and had no idea Doan was coming. So...
Boom. Head shot.
2. Sexton shouldn't have been admiring his pass.
Yeah. Whatever. He watched the puck go stick to stick for about a second and Doan trucked him another second later. If this is your thought process, watch less Don Cherry and maybe think logically a bit more. Start thinking about if this is the reputation you want your game to garner across the board. If you want each team to have 3 or 4 players on the IR at any given time, maybe you should go watch baseball.
These are favorite athletes on favorite teams. No one wins when players go down because of dirty hits. Did I give a crap when Eric Lindros lost his career to head-on collisions? No. Keep your head up. But that does not apply to these hits from behind.
These hits aren't hockey. They are total crap, and they make me angrier and angrier every time they happen. This isn't our game, no matter what a few alleged "purists" (code word for stubborn old men) insist.
So, to some extent, kudos to the NHL - just this once - for increasing these suspensions. We've gone from a $2,500 fine, to a two game suspension, and on to a 3 game suspension. I like that they are jacking the dosage here. Doan will be missed for three games, make no mistake about it. If they miss the playoffs by one or two games (Ask the Rangers about that) we may very well look at this suspension as a turning point in their season.
Maybe, just maybe, by the time the year 3000 rolls around these guys will get the point. These dirty hits aren't ok. You're hurting people.
Stop. Doing. It.