Blackhawks are finally turning the corner

SCOTT MORRISON

, Last Updated: 9:37 AM ET

No disrespect to Kurtis Foster, but his broken femur most likely won't be enough to break the NHL and prompt a rule change.

Sadly, it might take another serious injury before that happens, and even then it is not guaranteed.

Foster, of course, is the Minnesota Wild defenceman who crashed into the boards Wednesday night, after jostling with San Jose forward Torrey Mitchell in a foot race to touch the puck for an icing.

Foster went down hard, breaking his left leg, which required six hours of surgery to insert a rod to repair the damage. The good news out of Minnesota is that his career will be interrupted, not ended.

Funny, but few are talking about him getting the icing call.

As you would expect and as should happen, the injury has rekindled the debate over whether touch icing should continue in the NHL or some form of no-touch icing should be instituted. Folks such as Don Cherry have advocated the change for years, citing numerous examples of serious injuries to the likes of Pat Peake and Al MacInnis, along with multiple minor injuries that, in the advocate's opinion, could have been avoided.

But virtually every year, including this one, when the NHL general managers convene to review rules and the state of the game, there is talk about no-touch icing, but change always is rejected, usually by a wide margin.

The reaction following the Foster injury was one, obviously, of disappointment that a good, young player got hurt, but you don't sense there is a groundswell of interest for change, or that there is anything approaching unanimity on either the player or management side. That is not a scientific deduction, either, though some have conducted straw polls, while by simply soliciting and reading reaction from around the league it confirms that conclusion.

The arguments for and against, of course, are well documented. The advocates for change say significant injuries would be prevented and that nothing compelling would be lost from the game.

The traditionalists believe there is some excitement in chases for the pucks, that the number of injuries are not huge and are part of a dangerous game, that it can lead to offensive chances, potentially fewer stoppages, and maintains a level of intensity. There is also the belief that the game doesn't need any more rule changes or reactions to unfortunate injury.

It also has been argued that there are dangerous chases and battles for the puck that are similar to the icing plays, but are simple dump-ins, and no one suggests they be taken away. Of course, it can also be said that without having to worry about touching the puck, the defender can handle the situation differently and more safely.

Already in the past few days the concept of somehow outlawing contact on icing races, or making it a race to the end red line without the touch, or creating an imaginary line across the end face-off dots as the touch line, have all been thrown out there as possible solutions, short of simply going with no-touch icing, of course.

And many just want the status quo. Barring a major change, or injury perhaps, that is likely to remain.

SUCCESS STORY

The exclamation point on their season, obviously, would be for the Chicago Blackhawks to mount a late charge, somehow elbow their way into the playoffs and maybe make a little noise for a round or two.

Alas, it appears that is not about to happen but missing the playoffs won't diminish the accomplishments of the franchise on and off the ice. As the new management group led by Rocky Wirtz promised, in the wake of the passing of his father Bill, the operation of the franchise would change. He said they would get with the times and restore the image and operation.

Needless to say, the son has done a wonderful job, from hirings to finally showing a handful of home games on local television with the promise to get all games on TV next season, to bringing back former stars Bobby Hull, Stan Mikita and Tony Esposito. The goodwill gained has been immeasurable, the resulting sellouts much needed.

Indeed, earlier this week, when they welcomed back Esposito, there were 20,942 in attendance, the eighth sellout of the season and the ninth time they have drawn more than 20,000 fans. To put the sellout into context, eight is more than the Hawks have managed the past five seasons combined.

Overall, according to the club, ticket sales are up about 3,600 per game. Class and respect matter in the operation of a sports franchise.

THIS AND THAT

How embarrassing was Tampa Bay's third-period collapse the other night, blowing a 4-1 lead to Buffalo with less than 15 minutes in the third period and losing 7-4? According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it's just the fifth time a team won by three or more after falling behind by at least three goals in the third period ... Despite the struggles down the stretch, Nashville is expected to re-sign Barry Trotz and his coaching staff.


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