The topic of how to discipline players who inflict injury on another, with or without intent, has sparked a lively debate. A majority of letter writers favor suspending the player who delivers the hit to last at least as long as the injured player remains out of action.
Currently, such plays are reviewed, often a hearing follows, which allows general managers on both sides to present their case, if you will, and supplementary discipline is handed out.
Presently, there is no standard for suspensions. They can range from no suspension to indefinite, non-paid time off.
A sampling of opinions follow:
As a former pro of 20 years who only wore a helmet my last season, I can’t understand why there are so many head shots in today’s game. If someone did something to us we took care of it at that time so everyone knew if you crossed the line expect trouble. Today’s instigator rule is atrocious, and fines for fighting in the final five minutes means you can’t send a message for the next game. Then again, rivalries are not what they used to be, either.
Insightful comments from a player who skated for the Maple Leafs, Rangers, Red Wings, Canadiens, Penguins, Kings and Atlanta Flames – 499 NHL games in all from 1957-76.
My total belief, and I've been preaching it for years, is if you injure someone with a vicious hit from behind or by a major stick infraction you should be out as long as the person is injured. And the offender starts serving his penalty (all unpaid) only after the injured player returns to action.
Ft. McMurray, Alberta
When it comes to overly aggressive hits and major infractions, the NHL should use the same format as MLB when a pitcher gets ejected for throwing at a batter and the manager gets tossed out, too. In the NHL, the head coach would accompany the ejected player, and would receive a one-game suspension by the league along with a fine of an undisclosed amount for the player's actions.
I don't think it's a good idea to suspend a player for the length the victim is out because a player could just fake it to last longer so a star player is sidelined just as long. If there was a neutral medical staff accessing the injured players league-wide then it might not be a bad idea.
I think it’s true to a certain extent that players don't have respect for each other. My solution is to mandate the team handshake after each and every game. It’s done in recreational hockey and I find it really personalizes who we are to each other.
After watching Anaheim’s Chris Pronger pummel and punch Los Angeles’ Michal Handzus for shooting the puck after the horn recently, I wondered, what's the difference between this and what Todd Bertuzzi did to Steve Moore? A broken neck? When will goons with no respect for their fellow man be disciplined accordingly?
Thousand Oaks, Calif.
I am a huge Pittsburgh Penguins fan and have been since Mario Lemieux came into the league. I suffered through some pretty lean years. Do you think Marc-Andre Fleury is enough to put them over the top? That seems to be the biggest and weakest link right now for the Pens.
I sure wouldn’t give up on Fleury. Some of his struggles are his own doing, but look around in front of him, too. Every goal-against is a shared responsibility by the goalie and as many as five other skaters. Fleury turns 23 next week, fitting perfectly in the same age group as the rest of Pittsburgh’s talented young core.
What is going on with the Devils? I have been watching them play since the season started and they don’t look like the Devils. New Jersey never had any star players on their team yet they were able to get wins by playing together. What’s happening now? Is it the players, management or the organization?
The greatest myth about the Devils is they win without great players. Martin Brodeur, Scott Stevens, Scott Niedermayer, Scott Gomez, Joe Nieuwendyk, Alexander Mogilny, Bob Carpenter are or were all great in my book, and they get a lot of players to play roles. The difference this year is another new coach. As long as Lou Lamoriello is around, there will be no change in terms of how New Jersey goes about its business.
I think the NHL should revisit the shootout. While it is a novel and exciting way to end a regular-season hockey game, it subtracts from the level of play that occurred over the first 65 minutes of a game. For example, the Flyers and Rangers played one whale of a game on Nov. 15, both teams playing with fire and intensity throughout regulation and overtime. It was really great until the shootout when it came down to basically a skill competition – so much for effort, emotion and intensity. Bring back the tie!
I’m afraid shootouts are here to stay. Let’s just make sure no one gets the stupid notion to include them in the playoffs.
Can we please fix the NHL schedule? Being a transplant from Pennsylvania, I would like to see the Penguins or Flyers play the Stars during the season, but unfortunately, Gary Bettman thinks we should play the Sharks, Ducks, Coyotes and Kings eight times a season. Being a fan, what do we have to do to get the old NHL schedule back where we play every team in the league home and away?
Fans and teams have expressed enough discontent that the league says it will change the schedule in some form for next season. Expect every team to host every other team at least once every other season for starters.
Why not let the shooters skate without their helmets during a shootout? I think it would add to the excitement. What do you think?
I don’t know that it would add excitement, but it would add to player recognition so, yes, I am all about implementing this suggestion.
Can teams go over the salary cap? If so, what penalty do they pay?
There is no simple answer to anything about the current CBA. Teams can exceed the limit by no more than 10 percent from July 1 to the last day of training camp. From the end of camp until June 30, teams can exceed the upper limit by no more than 7.5 percent, but only because of long-term injury situations. Yes, there is a hefty fine. Let me point you to nhlscap.com for more in-depth information.
Does it seem unfair that neither Patrick Kane nor Jonathan Toews are on the All-Star ballot? They are having better years than a dozen of the players nominated, and they are responsible for the resurgence that is going on in Chicago.
No, it’s not fair that Kane, Toews or a number of other deserving players are left off, but the reason behind it is the ballots are drawn up before enough games have been played to really judge who is having good or bad seasons. Your only solution is to start a write-in campaign.