SUN Hockey Pool

Flames' Mayers OK with new rule

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:43 AM ET

UNIONDALE, NY — Jamal Mayers is OK with the NHL pushing through its head-shot rule.

The Flames right winger, however, wishes the decision to curb blindside hits to the head came with more of a deterent than just supplemental discipline.

“They have to add a penalty, or else people may feel it’s worth it to take out a player,” Mayers said. “You have to assess a minor or major penalty, or else it doesn’t hurt the team. Otherwise, it might be worth it in a playoff situation.

“In the playoffs, what’s to say it’s not a smart move to go after a guy?”

The NHL took a bold step in ushering a rule mid-season, which took effect in time for Thursday night’s games.

Owners voted Tuesday to implement a rule which the NHLPA endorsed Thursday.

Targeting the head with a “lateral, back-pressure or blindside hit” is now an offence to be reviewed.

The decision comes on the heels of hits by Pittsburgh’s Matt Cooke on Boston’s Marc Savard and the early-season check on Florida’s David Booth by Philadelphia’s Mike Richards.

Savard has been out of action since being hit March 7. Booth missed 45 games. Neither Richards or Cooke were suspended because their hits weren’t deemed infractions.

The new rule is temporary, in place for just the remainder of the regular season and the playoffs. After this season, all parties plan to draft a rule which includes on-ice penalties.

“Obviously something has to be done because a lot of guys are getting hurt, but there’s still a lot of grey area,” Mayers said. “Hopefully over time that will become more clear, but I think the idea is when you go to hit somebody, you can’t just get a piece of him.

“When you choose to get a piece of him, then you’re in trouble.

“I know for me, personally, if I’m trying to track back to the zone to hit a guy, if I can’t get at least half of him, my rule is don’t get a piece of him.

“I still think it’s OK to finish your check and the guys who cut to the middle need to be aware of the fact they’re going to get hit, but I think what they’re trying to make clear for anybody is you can’t aim only for the person’s head. You have to get the body. Making a particular rule makes it clear.”

randy.sportak@sunmedia.ca


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