Hits to head always a hot topic

DEREK VAN DIEST, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:58 AM ET

It's a topic that will continue to come up with every concussion and each hit to the head.

On Sunday, Pittsburgh Penguins forward Matt Cooke laid out Marc Savard with a blindside hit that knocked out the Boston Bruins centre and forced him to leave the game on a stretcher.

"I love hard hockey and I love hard hits, and I think it can change the momentum of a game or shift a playoff series, whatever the case may be," said veteran Oilers defenceman Jason Strudwick.

"But I'm not one for the head shots. It can happen really quick in a game and sometimes it's unintentional. But when guys are out for an extended period of time with a concussion due to a hit like that, I think it's too much."

NHL GMs are meeting in Florida this week, and the issue of head shots is at the top of their agenda.

"We have to do something, I think it's happening too frequently now," Strudwick said. "Ten years ago I don't think it happened as often; the guys weren't as fast and the play wasn't as wide open as now."

Cooke was not penalized on the play.

"Matt's not a dirty player, in my opinion," said Oilers head coach Pat Quinn. "But I think it's a serious play. We have to protect our players and they have to protect themselves.

"It seems to me guys used to have better antennas about where they were at certain times. When it came time, you protected yourself."


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