As we head (ahem) into the final game – or two – of the 2010-11 NHL season, here’s our resident expert, Glenn Anderson, on the issue that will define this season for all time. History won’t remember Tim Thomas’s heroics, Kesler’s grit, and St-Louis’ ageless speed as touchstones from 2010-11 – but we’ll be talking for a long time about the hits to the head and concussions suffered by Richards, Savard (again), Pacioretty, and of course Crosby.
Here’s Anderson on the subject:
Interestingly, Anderson puts more of the responsibility on the puck-carrier and the coaches than on the hitter. “Keep your head up and protect yourself” is his message, and it’s still the message in most of the NHL. Current NHLers who grew up watching Scott Stevens level guys who crossed the blue line with their head down, or looking at their pass (hello Eric Lindros) are now for the first time being told, “hey, you can’t hit a guy if he doesn’t have the puck on his stick at the moment of impact – and even then, you can’t make contact with his head.”
Until last year – or maybe even last month – the hit that Aaron Rome laid on Nathan Horton would have been applauded by all, except for maybe Horton himself. We’re not condoning what Rome did, only saying that the adjustment to the new guidelines continues to be a challenge for the players. And for the league: does anyone else get the sense that the NHL is kind of making this up as they go along? We heard they just changed Rule 48, or are thinking of changing it, or giving it a new number maybe. What does all this mean?
What it means is that after the hardware’s handed out later this week, the NHL er, brain trust will be spending a lot of time talking about what Glenn Anderson’s talking about here – and a lot of time maybe watching this, too: