Welcome to the Official Site of the Philadelphia Flyers Official Facebook of the Philadelphia Flyers Official Twitter of the Philadelphia Flyers Official Instagram of the Philadelphia Flyers Official LinkedIn of the Philadelphia Flyers Official DeskSite of the Philadelphia Flyers Flyer Wire
 
 
  • PRINT
  • RSS

GMs Propose Penalty for Blind-Side Hits to the Head

Wednesday, 03.10.2010 / 4:06 PM ET / News
By Shawn P. Roarke  - NHL.com
X
Share with your Friends


GMs Propose Penalty for Blind-Side Hits to the Head
(Boca Raton, FL) - As promised, the League's general managers delivered a stern message Wednesday that a certain segment of shoulder-to-head hits -- specifically those coming from the blind side of an opponent -- no longer will be tolerated in the NHL.
 
The 30 GMs, in their final day of meetings here, emerged from Wednesday's discussion with a unanimously approved resolution to introduce a new rule proposal to penalize blind-side hits to the head.

FlyersTV: Holmgren on proposal | Bettman
 
The rule proposal reads as follows:
 
"A lateral, back pressure or blind-side hit to an opponent where the head is targeted and/or is the principal point of contact is not permitted. A violation of the above will result in a minor or major penalty and shall be reviewed for possible supplemental discipline."
Florida Panthers forward David Booth is wheeled off the ice after being injured in the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Philadelphia Flyers, Saturday, Oct. 24, 2009, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

The proposal will be presented to the Competition Committee later this spring for approval before going before the Board of Governors for final approval. If passed, as expected, it would take effect at the start of the 2010-11 NHL season.
 
Wednesday's resolution brings to a close an intense several months of debate throughout the hockey community, a debate that was brought to the forefront by Mike Richards' blind-side hit on Florida's David Booth on Oct. 24. Booth suffered a concussion on the shoulder-to-head hit and missed 45 games. Under current NHL rules, the hit was legal body contact.

"The hit that pushed the managers over the brink because of the results is the Richards-on-Booth hit and the feeling that something had to be wrong from that hit to the side -- for the lack of a better term, the blind-side hit," NHL Senior Vice President and Director of Hockey Operations Colin Campbell said.
 
Sunday's blind-side hit by Pittsburgh's Matt Cooke on Boston's Marc Savard added further urgency to the discussion. Savard suffered a Grade II concussion on the play and had to be taken off the ice on a stretcher.
 
Cooke was not penalized on the play, and, reportedly, after review by Campbell, there will be no supplementary discipline.
 
While much work remains to be done on the issue -- including the final wording of the rule -- there was a true sense of accomplishment emanating from the group Wednesday.
The general managers believe they have stemmed the tide on predatory hits creeping into the game during the past several seasons.
 
This rule, says Toronto GM Brian Burke, is tangible proof of all the hard work the game's managers have put into this issue, as well as their efforts to limit the amount of concussions suffered by NHL players.
 
"The fact is, I think we've been very proactive in this area," Burke said. "For more than 10 years we've been working on the whole concussion issue. The game has evolved; we've made the game faster and created a new hitting area, which is on the back-pressure side. We need to tell our players what's acceptable and what's not going forward. We have to take this hit out of the game."
 
Several GMs mentioned the evolution of the game in response to the package of measures instituted in 2005 to take obstruction out of the game. In taking out the center red line and eradicating many of the measures -- hooks and holds -- used by players to slow down opposing forecheckers, the game changed in its very nature.
 
"We increased the speed of this game ten-fold, and in doing that we also increased the collision force in these hits," Campbell said.
 
Not only is the game faster, but the players are bigger and stronger than they have been at any time in the game's history.
 
"You're dealing with guys that are 6-foot-1 1/2 and 208 pounds, who are skating 25 to 30 miles per hour," said New York Rangers GM Glen Sather, who has been part of the NHL for more than 40 years as a player, coach and manager. "There is a lot of impact involved now that wasn't there 10 or 15 years ago."

Philadelphia general manager Paul Holmgren, a pretty rugged hitter during his playing career, knows the players doing the hitting in today's game face a whole different set of variables when they decide to deliver a hit. And he said he believed the time has come to give them a better understanding of what is and isn't acceptable in this new world order.
 
"There has been some evolution, particularly over the past few years because of the rules package instituted after the lockout, that has created a different game," Holmgren told NHL.com "There are some critical areas on the ice where the puck carrier is in an awkward position and a lot of players are congregating into that area and you can't slow that player down anymore by hooking him, you can't get a stick on that guy and your only recourse is to try to hit him. All we are saying is just don't hit him in the head."
There are some critical areas on the ice where the puck carrier is in an awkward position and a lot of players are congregating into that area and you can't slow that player down anymore by hooking him, you can't get a stick on that guy and your only recourse is to try to hit him. All we are saying is just don't hit him in the head." - Flyers GM Paul Holmgren

For many GMs, Holmgren's explanation strikes at the core of what they are trying to accomplish with Wednesday's proposal. This is not, they insist, an attempt to tamp down the physicality that makes hockey unique, but rather to get a troublesome aspect of that physicality under control.
 
Hitting, even hitting to the head with the shoulder, will be acceptable under this proposal. It will just have to be done in a straight-ahead manner and not from the side.
In essence, the GMs believe they have started a tangible shift in the culture of the game.
 
As long as hockey has been played in North America, it has been the responsibility of the puck carrier to avoid being hit. But under the parameters of today's game, the GMs are acknowledging it is no longer possible for a player to always avoid the blind-side hit to the head. Therefore, they now have placed some of the responsibility on the player delivering these types of hits. 
 
"You can still hit this guy, you just can't target his head," Burke said. "Hitting in our game -- it's part of the fabric of our game. It's what's distinctive about hockey in North America. Anywhere else on the planet you go, there's not as much hitting as there is in our game. We want to keep that, we want to preserve that. But we want to take out a dangerous hit where a guy targets a guy's head. He can still reef the guy; he just can't target his head."

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
C. Giroux 78 22 45 -8 67
W. Simmonds 81 32 28 -7 60
B. Schenn 80 26 33 3 59
J. Voracek 73 11 44 -5 55
S. Gostisbehere 64 17 29 8 46
S. Couturier 63 11 28 8 39
M. Raffl 82 13 18 9 31
M. Read 79 11 15 -5 26
M. Streit 62 6 17 -1 23
S. Laughton 71 7 14 -2 21
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
S. Mason 23 19 10 .918 2.51
M. Neuvirth 18 8 4 .924 2.27
Privacy Policy | AdChoices | California Privacy Rights | Contact Us | Advertise Employment | NHL.com Terms of Use

Philadelphiaflyers.com is the official Web site of the Philadelphia Flyers. Philadelphia Flyers and philadelphiaflyers.com are trademarks of Philadelphia Flyers, L.P. NHL, the NHL Shield, the word mark and image of the Stanley Cup and NHL Conference logos are registered trademarks of the National Hockey League. All NHL logos and marks and NHL team logos and marks as well as all other proprietary materials depicted herein are the property of the NHL and the respective NHL teams and may not be reproduced without the prior written consent of NHL Enterprises, L.P. Copyright © 1999-2015 Philadelphia Flyers, L.P. and the National Hockey League. All Rights Reserved.