NHL still soft on head shots

Penguins forward Matt Cooke drills Blue Jackets defenceman Fedor Tyutin with a hit from behind on...

Penguins forward Matt Cooke drills Blue Jackets defenceman Fedor Tyutin with a hit from behind on Feb. 8, 2011. (JAMIE SABAU/Getty Images)

ERIC FRANCIS, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:35 AM ET

Brace yourselves, hockey fans.

The next one is going to cause headaches.

The next blindside head shot, that is.

And the on-ice victim won’t be the only one left unsuspecting.

Thanks to the lengthy suspension handed out to Matt Cooke, there’s a belief out there amongst the general populace the league has finally committed to battling brain bashing with stiff sentences.

Not so.

Be ready, because unless the next player to deliver an elbow to the bucket is a repeat offender, he’ll only get two to four games, depending largely on his name and the victim’s injury status.

And the outrage and mudslinging directed towards NHL disciplinarian Colin Campbell will begin anew.

Because of his serial stupidity, Cooke was an exception, not the new rule. With his fifth suspension, he entered new territory, and so did the league.

Until the board of governors and the league’s competition committee rubberstamp the GM’s directive to bolster supplementary discipline this summer, Campbell is bound to his weathered book of precedents.

And that means more slaps on the wrist for slams to the skull.

You’ve been forewarned.

And now for more notes, quotes and anecdotes from a sports world wondering how the Washington Capitals could enter the season unsure if they had a legitimate NHL goaltender, only to finish the season with three of them — Braden Holtby, Michal Neuvirth and Semyon Varlamov.

Around the horn

Don’t look now, but the argument in favour of eliminating the instigator penalty is resurfacing. First Nik Lidstrom and Kris Draper suggested the players would be able to better police the game without it. Then Wayne Gretzky chimed in, citing the effectiveness of Dave Semenko and suggesting the league consider trying a year without it. At a time when the NHL is searching desperately to reduce violence, it’s archaic to believe Gary Bettman would relax rules on fighting. Never going to happen … Clever sign spotted at a recent Phoenix Coyotes game: ‘Guck Foldwater’ … Strange stat of the week: Home teams have won a record-low 39% of shootouts this year. Host clubs have never won fewer than 48% previously ... Scary news out of Boston where Marc Savard’s latest concussion has him experiencing memory problems and other serious issues that have the former Flames star extremely scared and concerned.

Parting gifts

While Toronto Maple Leafs fans see former Red Deer Rebels netminder James Reimer as the next Johnny Bower, the team’s flavour of the month between the pipts is also being fitted with a few nifty nicknames, such as Optimus Reim and the Reim Minister. (He’d get my vote ahead of any of the other stiffs running federally) … The broken ankle suffered by Anze Kopitar Saturday has junior hockey fans in Saskatoon terrified the Los Angeles Kings will soon call up Blades star Brayden Schenn. The Blades traded six players to acquire Schenn and are Memorial Cup contenders as long as Schenn remains in his hometown. The Kings need one more injury before they can even consider summoning Schenn on an emergency call-up basis … Things have certainly turned out well for two-time Flames castoff Brandon Prust. On top of earning plenty of ice time with the New York Rangers, he’s landed himself on the New York Post’s Page Six gossip radar as he was reportedly caught smooching in a bar with Gossip Girl star Michelle Trachtenberg. The report apparently prompted his Canadian girlfriend of a year, Marie-Pier Morin, to burst into tears. We report this only so you can perform a quick Google search … PGA Tour regular Chris Baryla may be listed as a Calgarian because of his birthplace, but the 28-year-old grew up in Vernon, B.C., where he played junior golf against former Flames player Chuck Kobasew. Kobasew, a 1-handicap, spends his summers in Vernon, where he plays weekly in the off-season with former teammate Jarome Iginla at their home course, Predator Ridge.

eric.francis@sunmedia.ca

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- Eric Francis appears regularly as a panellist on The Hotstove on CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada.


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