Just Take Checking Out of the NHL (Wait What?)

If you follow the NHL, you’ve heard the arguments about taking fighting out of the game. I’d get into that now, but I’m going to take it one step further. One step too far.

Take checking out of the NHL because the players, obviously, aren’t able to handle it.

First we’ll take a look at the illegal hits. There were 23 suspensions that were “checking” related and despite the NHL’s new rule to curb concussions (only hit a player in the head if they know you’ll hit them in the head…or something like that), The Concussion Blog counted around 98 concussions to NHL players. It’s apparent that a lot of NHL players don’t know how to deliver a proper check or, for some dumbass reason, they just choose not to.

Next we’ll take a look at legal hits. This is the part that, as a fan, really pisses me off. I am REALLY tired of the scrums and the fights that follow EVERY big hit. It tells me that players are not OK with big hits. As a fan I want to see big hits, but I don’t want play to stop after every one that happens. Like this hit from Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals:
http://nhl.cdn.neulion.net/u/videocenter/embed.swf

Hamhuis flips Lucic with a great hip check. It’s a legal hit which means play should go on, but no. Instead everyone stops playing because the Bruins are angry because someone had the nerve to play physical hockey. What a bunch of crap! Could you imagine if this kind of stuff happened in the NFL or any hockey league below Juniors? I can understand basketball players getting pissed off when they get hip checked while jumping 3 feet in the air. They’re wearing shorts and a tank top, but hockey players wear more padding than any other professional sport!

Now I’m not one to bitch about a problem and not give any solutions, so here’s some of my ideas (not all of them good) on what the NHL can do to improve the physical part of the game without sacrificing their talent:

  • Mandatory Checking Clinics: During the off season, every NHL player spends a day or two re-learning how to give and receive a check. None of this Rule 48 BS with half-understandable videos.
  • Fine Any Player Who Responds Negatively to a Legal Check: Want to send a message that your star teammate should be exempt from the physical aspect of the game? Pony up some cash.
  • Special “Don’t Check Me, Bro” Sweaters: NHL players literally can’t stand to see their star players dumped, so each team gets “Don’t Check Me, Bro” sweaters for 2 of their star players.
  • Get Rid of Fighting: This will help change the culture in the NHL. If you think fighting is “just part of the sport” go watch a high school or NCAA hockey game where there is no fighting and tell me you enjoy the game any less.

The NHL needs to do something to protect it’s players while keeping the game physical and entertaining. Rule 48 does almost nothing to protect players and stopping play after every big hit is not entertaining.

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2 thoughts on “Just Take Checking Out of the NHL (Wait What?)

  1. Love this! Just read a column on fighting and its place in the game by Kevin Dupont. It was a good column and Dupont thinks much like you do. I hate the resistance to cracking down on fighting. Just because fighting has been a mainstay of past incarnations of the NHL, doesn’t mean it’s above reproach and exempt from changes. The game evolves.

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