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Head-shot plan would change game

BOCA RATON — In a move that signals a shift in the culture of North American pro hockey, general managers Wednesday unanimously recommended a rule that would penalize blind-side checks to the head.

The 30 GMs ended three days of meetings agreeing to ban "a lateral, back-pressure or blind-side hit to an opponent where the head is targeted and-or the principal point of contact." A penalty would be assessed on such a hit, and further discipline would be possible.

The change must be approved by the joint player-management competition committee and the Board of Governors. It would go into effect next season.

Traditionally in North America, a player knocked woozy by a blind-side hit is blamed for "admiring his pass" or "not having his head on a swivel," meant to convey that a player must always be on the lookout for a check. "(This) is a huge statement in the game," league chief disciplinarian Colin Campbell said. "We're shifting some of the responsibility from the player getting hit to the player delivering the hit."

Blind-side shoulder checks to the head are currently legal but have caused several concussions this season. Discussions this week largely stemmed from a hit to Panthers wing David Booth by Flyers captain Mike Richards on Oct. 24. Booth was taken off on a stretcher. He missed 45 days because of a concussion. He is playing again.

The issued was magnified by a hit Penguins wing Matt Cooke made on Bruins center Marc Savard on Sunday. Savard also was taken off on a stretcher. He has a concussion and is expected to miss the rest of the season.

Because the hits were legal, neither Richards nor Cooke was penalized or suspended. (The league announced its Cooke decision Wednesday.)

Among the rule-change supporters is Lightning wing Marty St. Louis: "There's no room for (head shots) in our game, especially with the speed of the game and the amount of head injuries we've had this year alone."

But Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger, a five-time All-Star and former MVP, said he's not necessarily in favor of one: "So, you're going to let up when a guy has his head down, so then he beats you to the net and scores a goal in a big playoff game or a crucial game towards the tail end of the regular season? Then you're getting critiqued by the media and the fans: Why didn't you hit him?"

Lightning coach Rick Tocchet is torn. He understands Pronger's point but said if all head shots were illegal, "players would adjust to it."

Times staff writer Damian Cristodero contributed to this report.

at Blackhawks 1 1 0 1 3
Kings 0 2 0 0 2

First Period1, Chicago, Sharp 20 (Burish, Kane), 2:34. PenaltiesClune, LA, major (fighting), 2:54; Burish, Chi, major (fighting), 2:54; Simmonds, LA (slashing), 10:05; O'Donnell, LA (cross-checking), 10:24; Sopel, Chi (holding), 19:40.

Second Period2, L.A., Brown 16 (O'Donnell, Kopitar), 4:58. 3, L.A., Kopitar 31 (Doughty, Stoll), 6:50 (pp). 4, Chicago, Versteeg 15 (Ladd, Madden), 8:25. PenaltiesL.A. bench, served by Simmonds (too many men), 2:12; Toews, Chi (goaltender interference), 5:49.

Third PeriodNone. PenaltiesBrown, LA, major (fighting), 17:23; Brouwer, Chi, major (fighting), 17:23; Simmonds, LA (holding), 18:37. Overtime5, Chicago, Sharp 21 (Bolland), 2:08. PenaltiesNone. Shots on GoalL.A. 6-14-10-0—30. Chicago 13-16-11-3—43. Power-play opportunitiesL.A. 1 of 2; Chicago 0 of 4. GoaliesL.A., Quick 37-19-4 (43 shots-40 saves). Chicago, Niemi 18-5-1 (30-28).

at Devils 2 3 1 6
Rangers 1 2 0 3

First Period1, N.J., Niedermayer 8 (Rolston, Mottau), 4:16. 2, NYR, Prospal 15 (Gaborik, Jokinen), 5:13. 3, N.J., Salvador 4 (Greene, Langenbrunner), 18:17. PenaltiesZubrus, NJ (roughing), 7:47; Shelley, NYR, major (fighting), 18:21; Letourneau-Leblond, NJ, major (fighting), 18:21.

Second Period4, NYR, Christensen 6 (Dubinsky, Girardi), 5:01. 5, N.J., Parise 31 (Zubrus, Zajac), 8:38 (pp). 6, NYR, Prust 2 (Shelley), 9:15. 7, N.J., Langenbrunner 16 (Mottau, Greene), 13:06. 8, N.J., Rolston 18 (Niedermayer, Clarkson), 15:19. PenaltiesParise, NJ (interference), 5:54; Redden, NYR (hooking), 8:23; Zajac, NJ (tripping), 19:53.

Third Period9, N.J., Zajac 21 (Zubrus, Parise), 16:21. PenaltiesShelley, NYR (interference), 2:53; Shelley, NYR, misconduct, 17:13. Shots on GoalNYR 6-7-6—19. N.J. 8-13-6—27. Power-play opportunitiesNYR 0 of 3; N.J. 1 of 2. GoaliesNYR, Lundqvist 26-23-8 (17 shots-12 saves), Auld (15:19 second, 10-9). N.J., Brodeur 36-22-3 (19-16).

at Sabres 3 1 1 5
Stars 3 0 0 3

First Period1, Buff., Myers 9 (Hecht, Roy), :55. 2, Dallas, Petersen 8 (Daley, Benn), 2:59. 3, Buff., Mancari 1 (Rivet, Torres), 7:49. 4, Dallas, Ott 12 (Richards, Eriksson), 12:28. 5, Dallas, Benn 16 (Skrastins, Modano), 17:56. 6, Buff., Pominville 17 (Myers, Connolly), 19:03. PenaltiesModano, Dal (slashing), 5:45; Myers, Buf (interference), 9:49; Robidas, Dal (interference), 15:30.

Second Period7, Buff., Vanek 20 (Mancari, Myers), 10:05. PenaltiesOtt, Dal, major (fighting), 6:52; Kaleta, Buf, major (fighting), 6:52; Tallinder, Buf (tripping), 19:00. Third Period8, Buff., Roy 18 (Myers, Tallinder), 19:42 (en). PenaltiesNone. Shots on GoalDallas 9-5-6—20. Buff. 16-15-12—43. Power-play opportunitiesDallas 0 of 2; Buff. 0 of 2. GoaliesDallas, Turco 20-18-9 (42 shots-38 saves). Buff., Miller 33-15-7 (20-17).

at Capitals 2 1 0 1 4
Hurricanes 1 2 0 0 3

First Period1, Wash., Semin 31 (Morrison, Carlson), 2:24. 2, Wash., Green 16 (Backstrom, Ovechkin), 17:59 (pp). 3, Car., Dwyer 6 (Kostopoulos, Harrison), 18:17. PenaltiesFleischmann, Was (tripping), 5:57; Steckel, Was (holding), 8:59; Samsonov, Car (hooking), 10:25; Picard, Car (hooking), 17:04.

Second Period4, Car., Ruutu 14 (LaRose), 8:43. 5, Wash., Green 17 (Ovechkin, Laich), 11:02 (pp). 6, Car., Jokinen 27 (Ruutu, Pitkanen), 15:03 (pp). PenaltiesCarson, Car (holding), :48; Picard, Car (tripping), 9:41; Walker, Was (clipping), 14:01; Corvo, Was (interference), 19:16. Third PeriodNone. PenaltiesSemin, Was (slashing), 3:17. Overtime7, Wash., Fleischmann 19 (Belanger), 3:20. PenaltiesNone. Missed Penalty ShotSutter, Car, 17:41 first. Shots on GoalCar. 11-8-10-2—31. Wash. 12-10-13-4—39. Power-play opportunitiesCar. 1 of 5; Wash. 2 of 4. GoaliesCar., Legace 9-5-3 (39 shots-35 saves). Wash., Theodore 23-7-6 (31-28).

Head-shot plan would change game 03/10/10 [Last modified: Thursday, March 11, 2010 4:16pm]
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