Plan to ban blindside headshots gets thumbs-up

STEVE MACFARLANE, Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 11:38 PM ET

Consider them banned.

On its way to the NHL’s competition committee courtesy of the league’s GMs is a proposal to introduce a rule giving refs the ability to call a minor or major penalty for blindside hits to the head.

And both players and coaches couldn’t be more thrilled to hear it could be approved by the board of governors this summer and take effect next season.

“As a player you want to feel safe out there, and make sure if you’re in a vulnerable position, you’re going to be protected,” said Flames winger Eric Nystrom.

“Anything that can make us safer and more secure on the ice is a good thing.”

Centre Matt Stajan agrees hits players don’t see coming are causing unnecessary pain.

“I’ve been on the receiving end of a few headshots the last few years,” Stajan said.

“I think those (blindside hits) are the ones that really need to be penalties and suspensions.

“It’s all about respect for each other as players.”

Respect has been a word bandied about for months as the issue continues to make news on an alarming level.

The latest was a hit on Boston Bruins centre Marc Savard courtesy of Pittsburgh Penguins grinder Matt Cooke that ended with Savard leaving the ice on a stretcher.

He may be done for the season. Cooke received no suspension.

With a rule in place, next year it could mean a two or five-minute infraction, which makes suspension easier to justify for the league’s disciplinarians.

Flames captain Jarome Iginla knows it wasn’t easy

for the GMs to come to a decision.

No one wants to see checking taken out of the game, and because it’s often a grey area that leads to inconsistencies when it comes to penalties and suspensions, Iginla is looking forward to more specific examples of right and wrong when it comes to hitting.

“It can be really tough on guys’ careers. Nobody wants to get hit with one of those,” Iginla said. “They’ve got to keep looking at it, make it a little more cut and dry for us as players so that we do know what is a good hit and what is a bad hit.

“I think it just comes down to them nailing down what they think and then showing us visuals. We can adjust.”


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