Thursday, NHL owners voted unanimously to implement a new “head shot” rule which will remain in effect for the remainder of regular season games and for post season play. The NHL Player’s Association gave their blessing for the rule as they believe it will help keep players safe. The NHLPA supported the new rule in their statement:
“We are encouraged by the league’s recent willingness to explore on-ice rule changes as a means of reducing player injuries and have no doubt that by working together, a safer working environment can be established for all NHLPA members.”
The new rule states that “lateral, back-pressure or blindside hit to an opponent where the head is targeted and/or the principal point of contact” are not allowed. This new rule is a response from the NHL to the hit Boston Bruin’s Marc Savard took from Pittsburgh Penguin Matt Cooke that went unpunished but ended Savard’s season (pictured above). The hits have been getting more violent as the playoffs near, so this couldn’t have come at a better time.
I’m happy to see this happen. I’m happy to see the NHL taking action to protect players against possible brain damage or other career ending injuries. I’m happy that this is just the beginning and that they are working on a permanent rule for next season. Even though hockey has and hopefully always will be an aggressive and pretty violent sport, I’m sure that these guys are happy that their chances of ending their career with most of their brain intact have improved.
NHLPA supports new NHL initiative on head hits [Sports Network]