“They’re looking to make the coaches responsible, make the ownership
responsible, but until the players accept that this is beyond the
limits, nothing is going to change,” said Quinn. “I played without
helmets and I don’t remember that kind of stuff happening.
“It’s a hard game and there are inadvertent things that happen that
will cause problems. But there are still a lot of intentional things
going on. I haven’t seen this hit, but if it was intentional, you have
to deal with it harshly.”
“There has been a change in how players conduct themselves out there
how the league responds to it,” Quinn said. “I think that old role of
the ’60s policeman is long gone. You did look after it and you did it
within the set and guidelines of the rules, a players’ code. There was a
real code and not many guys went outside that. Today a lot of guys
don’t have a code it (looks) like.”
This is so much truth to what Edmonton Oilers coach Pat Quinn has to
say above it hurts.
I have to admit that I wasn’t around in the days when hockey players
wouldn’t wear helmets, but talking to my mother (who is a huge hockey
fan and who introduced me to the sport) she says that she never saw any
of the dangerous, high hits the NHL is afflicted with today. Thinking
back to the ‘old’ hockey of the late ’80’s and 1990’s, I can’t remember
anything like we’re seeing right now when it comes to dirty hits. Sure,
we had some every now and then (Hatcher on Roenick’s jaw comes to mind)
but no where even close to the plague of dirty hits we debate each week.
What’s changed? Is it just a new generation of players that have
grown up with better equipment than at any other time in history, to the
point where a player doesn’t feel a big hit as much as they did in the
past? There’s pretty much a suit of armor on these guys, and the most
unprotected part of the body is the head.
What about the ‘code’ of hockey, the respect players supposedly had
for each other. Sure, not every player is supposed to like each other,
but there was always a measure of respect between teams. Perhaps it’s
the way that young hockey players are raised in an ultra-competitive
environment, where winning is the only option. It creates a higher level
of hockey, but one where players will do anything and everything in
order to win.
Something has to be done to change the mindset of hockey players, and
it’s going to have to start at the higher levels of hockey before
anything is changed among the younger players. The NHL is going to have
to get stricter and stricter with punishments to send a message that
these sorts of hits will no longer be tolerated. The players are going
to have to somehow alter their approach to the game, or the NHL is going
to lose more and more fans as the game devolves into endless debates
about dirty hits.
(Quote courtesy of Derek Van Diest, Ottawa