The Race is On
OK, Clever Girls- here is what you need to know about the NHL real time. Let’s start with the fact if I am Eric Lindros I am really pissed off right now. Why? Eric Lindros was acknowledged as one of the future greatest hockey players of all time in his early teens.However, he was plagued by head injuries throughout his 15-year professional hockey career.
The quintessential power forward (think- I will go through you, over you or around you to get to the goal), he was often the target for cheap shots, bad hits and dirty tactics.
The NHL has officially put a stop to some of the better executed shots to the head as of last Wednesday. After a nasty hit by Penguins forward Matt Cooke, Marc Savard of the Bruins is out for the season with a serious concussion. If you put a reel together of questionable head shots in the past 15 years, Eric Lindros would probably be the star of the video. It’s been going on too long and the players are applauding the ruling.
Now, initially fans might fear this will in some way temper the physicality of the game but let me reassure- that is not the case. What this rule is designed to do is protect the players from serious injury if not death as a result of an intentional check involving the head. So, Clever Girls- this is a great conversational piece with any hockey loving man. “So, do you think the new ruling this week will change the physical play in hockey?” First of all, any guy is going to be So Very Impressed you knew there was a new rule implemented, the fact you understand the rule might change the landscape of play (which it won’t) and are prepared to talk about it? BLISS. You might as well be doing shots of Jack. Guy’s Girl.
So, this is the deal. If you have possession of the puck or you just had possession of the puck, a check or hit is legal physicality. However, imagine a player moving up the ice, leaning forward as is the stance. Now someone comes in an east/west direction and knowingly uses their shoulder to connect with the head of the player with the puck. If you could see a hit like this- and you can (youtube.com savard/cook)- it’s difficult to imagine anyone recovering from it.
Hockey is So Very Physical and that is not going to change. This is why. Calling attention to this hit and making it illegal forces the checking player to target the body. Still physical without nearly breaking someone’s neck. Also, it is the responsibility of the player with the puck to be aware of his forward motion. If his head is hit due to a lack of awareness for his head and body- the resulting contact is legal.
It’s a wonder anyone survives this game. You have lethal weapons on your feet, a jousting implement in hand, a piece of rubber as hard as steel rocketing across ice at speeds up to a hundred miles per hour and HUGE men battling over it. My gosh- what a fantastically charged game.
The verbiage of the rule is this- a lateral, back-pressure or blind-side hit to an opponent where the head is targeted and/or the principal point of contact. So, it implies intentionality- you cannot target the head. So many careers have been ended with hits like this- Clever Girls think of that fantastic movie with D.B. Sweeney and Moira Kelly, “The Cutting Edge”- professional hockey player’s career ends early and he goes into figure skating- love blossoms. Love that movie.
The players are in support of the ruling as it increases their changes of playing hockey longer. Not everyone is a Steve Yzerman (retired captain of the Detroit Red Wings) or Chris Chelios (veteran player with the Atlanta Thrashers) and able to play well into their 40s. It is not the norm- but maybe this adjustment will lengthen the careers of these amazingly talented athletes.
OK- enough about that. Let’s see who sits where heading into the Stanley Cup race. There is still a fair amount up in the air, but this is what we know so far. Though there still is time …
If I have not explained this before, hockey playoffs work like this: The top eight teams in each conference battle it out to the Cup. The first place team and the eight place team play the best of seven and then advance. I wish it were the best of five- the playoffs last too long after a grueling season (these guys need more time off to play golf and spend with their families)- but playoffs translate to money.
In the Western Conference
Sharks vs. Red Wings (1 v 8- yes my Wings are 8 and don’t think I’m not hacked about it)
Blackhawks vs. Avalanche (2 v 7)
Canucks vs. Kings (3 v 6)
Coyotes vs. Predators (4 v 5)
In the Eastern Conference
Capitals vs. Bruins (1 v 8)
Devils vs. Flyers (2 v 7)
Sabres vs. Canadiens (3 v 6)
Penguins vs. Senators (4 v 5)
I’ll check back in with you when all is set in ice. Clever Girls need to know where their guy’s teams stand. This is the most exciting time of the year for hockey fans (other than season opening)- so ladies, prepare to watch or to make other plans if you are seeing a hockey guy.
I’ll bring you some ideas for home hockey watching parties that will have you earning major points with the guys.