Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

NHL struggles with reducing hits to head

On Wednesday, Buffalo's John Scott leveled Boston's Loui Ericksson with a devastating blow that could land him a heavy suspension.

AP photo

On Wednesday, Buffalo's John Scott leveled Boston's Loui Ericksson with a devastating blow that could land him a heavy suspension.

Ryan Malone wanted to make clear he is not condoning any hit by a player who specifically targets the head. But the Lightning left wing also said there is much more to consider when talking about the league's crackdown on head shots than the players' willingness to make the game less dangerous for each other.

Related News/Archive

"The game is moving so fast," Malone said. "If your mind is made up you're going to finish your checks, it takes a split second for a guy to change (his body) angle. It happens so fast. If you're in the stands watching or up in the press box, obviously it looks slower than when it's happening on the ice."

Hits to the head, and their punishment, were all over the news last week.

Monday, league disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan suspended three players for such hits. Wednesday, Buffalo's John Scott leveled Boston's Loui Eriksson with a devastating blow that could land him a heavy suspension. And Thursday, commissioner Gary Bettman upheld a 10-game suspension to Buffalo's Patrick Kaleta, a repeat offender.

Including the preseason, 10 players have been suspended for hits to the head or boarding, Canada's TSN sports TV network says on its website.

But Malone said it is too easy to say, as some have, that players simply need to show each other more respect.

"I think it's more situational," Malone said. "The repeat guys, it's not a coincidence. And blind-side hits and hits from the back, those are something that can be taken out of the game. But guys are going to get hit in the head. You're looking down at the puck, guys are different sizes. It's almost inevitable."

Malone, in an October 2011 preseason game at Montreal, caught Chris Campoli with an elbow to the side of the head. He was not suspended when Shanahan ruled that the position of Campoli's head changed at the last moment when he lost the puck.

So, what is the solution?

For players throwing the checks, "it's hard, but you need to be aware of the circumstances about what might happen," Malone said.

Continued fines and suspensions will keep driving that point home. As Lightning center Steven Stamkos said, "I've seen clips where guys have eased off hits, so there is a conscious effort."

But players getting checked also have some responsibility, Stamkos said. "You do have to try to avoid vulnerable positions."

As Malone said, "If you don't expect to get hit, you're probably in the wrong sport."

NHL struggles with reducing hits to head 10/26/13 [Last modified: Saturday, October 26, 2013 8:34pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Tampa lands Super Bowl in 2021

    Bucs

    Tampa's Super again. Or at least it will be soon.

    Mike Tomlin celebrates with LaMarr Woodley and Troy Polamalu after the Steelers beat the Cardinals in 


Super Bowl XLIII  on February 1, 2009 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. [Times files (2009)
  2. Why Ryan Fitzpatrick may solve the puzzle for Bucs at backup quarterback

    Blogs

    Ryan Fitzpatrick will have to leave One Buc Place following Thursday’s off-season workout and fly home to New Jersey in time to teach a class of 10 second and third grade students how to solve the Rubiks Cube.

  3. For starters: Rays vs. Angels, with Cobb leading the way

    Blogs

    Rays veteran RHP Alex Cobb had a lot to say Monday about the team needing to focus on getting past .500 and building a winning record.

    And after the disappointing 3-2 loss that …

    Alex Cobb will start tonight when the Rays play the Angels.
  4. Family a driving force for University of Tampa pitcher David Lebron

    College

    TAMPA — For University of Tampa junior pitcher David Lebron, baseball reminds him of family. He uses it to help honor the memory of his father, who taught him the game. One day, he hopes his career can help support his mother and allow her to rest.

    University of Tampa junior pitcher David Lebron (Courtesy of University of Tampa)
  5. L.A. delay could re-open Super Bowl chance for Tampa in 2021

    Blogs

    Construction delays on the NFL's new stadium in Los Angeles mean the Rams and Chargers won't be playing there until 2020, a year later than expected, and the ripple effect could give Tampa another …

    Tampa and Raymond James Stadium last hosted a Super Bowl in 2009, when the Pittsburgh Steelers edged the Arizona Cardinals.