Cherry: Players have no respect

TED WYMAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:05 PM ET

Don Cherry, the last person you would expect to champion the cause of removing a physical aspect of the game of hockey, agrees that something has to be done about hits to the head.

The NHL has a growing controversy on its hands with league scoring leader and MVP shoo-in Sidney Crosby sitting on the sidelines with a concussion sustained in a borderline collision during the Winter Classic.

But while Cherry acknowledges the NHL needs to do more to protect its players from such blindside hits, he points to a different culprit.

“It’s the players,” Cherry told reporters at the NHL Prospects Game in Toronto Wednesday. “Who do you think is doing it? They have no respect.”

That’s precisely why the NHL needs to do more to cut down on these incidents and their related injuries. You can’t expect players to police themselves, not when they are taught from an early age that heavy hits are game-changers and that players who throw their weight around with abandon often find success at a professional level.

Cherry, who, by the way, believes Washington’s Dave Steckel deserved to be punished for hitting Crosby illegally during the Winter Classic, says the best way to get these dangerous hits out of the game is to start young.

“I’ve been asking for this stop sign to be put on the back of helmets for kids and nobody pays any attention,” Cherry told reporters.

“It’s a big buzz word now, head shots. You remember about five years ago it was hits from behind. It’s always been in the game and the respect is not there and it starts when they’re in bantam, because of all the helmets, the big cages, the big equipment across and the kids don’t have respect for the head like they used to.”

The truth is, hockey is a rough sport played by extremely tough players and we don’t want to see that changed.

But by the same token, we know more about head injuries now than we ever have before and prevention is by far the best medicine.

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