NHL making head-way

RANDY SPORTAK, Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 7:53 AM ET

Good on the NHL for finally deciding the time has come to outlaw blind-side headshots.

Maybe. It’s still a grey area, unfortunately.

We don’t really know whether the rule proposed by the league’s GMs means until the competition committee has its say after the season, makes a recommendation and a final word is drawn up.

That’s not the uncertainty. The committee will come up with something that no longer allows hits like Matt Cooke’s on Marc Savard to be legal, and there will finally be something in the NHL rule book that stipulates that kind of “check” is a no-no.

Unfortunately, that’s all we know.

Nobody knows what exactly is a penalty. Nor what banishment will be handed out on the ice. Minors? Majors?

Misconducts?

Worst of all, we may never know what the supplemental discipline will be. That’s the real shame of all this.

This whole process has been as absurd as ignoring Farrah Fawcett at the Academy Awards.

The league allowed this problem to creep into the game years ago when players were allowed to simply “finish their check” by hitting unsuspecting opponents, all too often without the puck. (For some reason, “finishing your check” is code for hitting a player who no longer has the puck, but inexplicably it’s encouraged.)

The danger increased year after year because of the lack of retribution for those hit-and-hide tactics and has become a full-fledged epidemic as the game has become faster and faster.

Now, the NHL has to figure out a way to close the Pandora’s Box.

Players around the league are saying 10- and 15-game suspensions aren’t out of the question.

The league must follow those ideals instead of the ‘spinning wheel of justice’ approach we’ve seen all too often.

Start with something reasonable for first-time offenders — five games — and then go up exponentially. If a player is banished for 10 or 20 games for a second infraction to curb the problem, so be it.

Obviously, a pair of two-game suspensions within a year of each other didn’t change Cooke’s ways.

It’s time to be firm on the issue. Hockey can’t afford more grey areas.

Flaming C-Notes

Can’t help but think Jarome Iginla’s Olympic experience was aided by the way coach Mike Babcock handled the Flames star. Babcock basically told Iginla to be physical and assertive, or he wouldn’t play with Sidney Crosby. End result is Iginla playing with more jam for Calgary. Curiously, it may cost Babcock’s Detroit Red Wings a playoff spot ... Over a handful of games since joining the Flames, defenceman Steve Staios has joined the rush more often than Jay Bouwmeester has all season. How is that possible with the way Bouwmeester can skate? The Flames have to hope maybe it’ll rub off on Bouwmeester.

Hockey talky

Congratulations to the WHL Hitmen for a 50-win season. So much for it being a rebuilding year ... It’s not like it was one long road trip, but the Vancouver Canucks have nearly cemented the Northwest Division title by going 8-5-1 over their 14-game road “trip” ... Great job by the league to consider only regulation-time and overtime wins for the first tiebreaker when it comes to playoff spots. A shootout victory shouldn’t be worth the same as a win during real action, so it’s a step in the right direction, if the competition committee believes the same way. Even better would be to go to a 3-2-1-0 point system (regulation wins worth three points, extra-time wins worth two, extra-time losses worth one and regulation-time loses worth zero). Or, just make any wins worth two points and no points for any loss, and make life less complicated ... The Phoenix Coyotes appear headed to the playoffs, but are in tough to hold that No.-4 seed. The Desert Dogs play

11 of their final 15 games on the road ... Anybody who has ever met Teemu Selanne has to be pulling for him to score a few more this season. Selanne, whose career could come to a close this season, has 598 career goals. Three tallies will tie him with Jari Kurri for 17th spot on the NHL’s all-time list and most by a player from Finland.


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