The NHL’s GM’s met in Boston today to discuss the state of the league and the one subject that came up big once again was shots to the head. After all with what happened to Nathan Horton and his severe concussion suffered in Game 3 that took place here in Boston, it was necessary for something to be discussed.
Coming into focus was Rule 48 that was added by the NHL before this season meant to punish any player who targeted the head of an unsuspecting opponent with a blindside shot to the head. Today, a panel made up of Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk, Lightning GM Steve Yzerman, and NHL executive office members Brendan Shanahan and Rob Blake proposed removing “blindside” from the description of Rule 48.
The motivation behind that is to better protect all players and get rid of a loophole that somewhat existed with the rule as it was written. After all, if a player suffered a head shot that wasn’t a blindside blow it’s possible it could’ve been worked around that it didn’t fall under Rule 48.
For instance, the hit Horton took from Aaron Rome in Game 3 wasn’t considered for Rule 48 at all by NHL VP of Hockey Operations Mike Murphy and was judged simply as an interference penalty. You could argue that his handing down of a four game suspension to Rome for his hit was effectively the start of that line of thinking. Trying to make this rule as clear as possible in a situation where sometimes the causes and results can be blurred out by circumstances helps out in the long run to help protect the players.
There are steps before this can be approved, however. The NHL competition committee will meet on Monday to discuss the matter and then it’ll be up to the Board of Governors to approve the alteration when they meet on June 21. Don’t expect there to be too much debate amongst everyone over this issue as the NHL has taken enough heat for resisting change for as long as they have on these matters. After all, NCAA hockey and some junior hockey leagues have rules in place that outlaw shots to the head at all. Having the premiere professional league in the world be resistant to change there doesn’t look good to many fans. The fact that this subtle change to Rule 48 still doesn’t totally ban shots to the head may still irk some fans.
These changes are happening slowly over time, but we can be thankful that they’re happening at all and moving forward to protect the players on the ice. It should come as no surprise that those that are helping push these things forward are players-turned-executives who want to see current players staying in the game longer and avoiding potentially career-ending or life-debilitating injuries. Now if they could do something about making the players have a better sense of respect for one another we’d be really getting somewhere.
Keith Urban sang the national anthem for Game 3. Kelly Clarkson did the honors for the Nashville Predators before Game 4. Next up: Trisha Yearwood for Game 6.
The Predators hope to close out the Anaheim Ducks on Monday, and they got off to a nice start with Austin Watson scoring a quick 1-0 goal. Not long after, the Predators added another to build to a 2-0 lead.
Garth Brooks spoiled Yearwood’s appearance a bit before the contest.
Brooks also revealed Yearwood’s early fan creds:
Anaheim Ducks forward Nick Ritchie scored a goal in Game 4, but he won’t be able to provide such a scoring boost for his team in Game 6.
That’s because he was ejected during the first period after hitting rising Nashville Predators star Viktor Arvidsson from behind, bloodying the slick Swede.
Ritchie was whistled for a game misconduct and major. Remarkably, the Ducks killed the entire five-minute power-play opportunity, with Ryan Kesler‘s shorthanded chance being one of the better opportunities for either team.
It’s still a big blunder, but if the Ducks can get back in it, remember that big kill.
Video of the hit is coming soon. For now, check out the GIF:
Oddly, Arvidsson left the ice with a wound that more or less spelled out “R,” presumably for Ritchie, maybe celebrating the return of “Twin Peaks.”
(Such an obvious move might not be surreal enough for David Lynch, though. Alex Prewitt’s Zorro reference might be more, um, on the mark.)
It was already loud at Bridgestone Arena, but the Nashville Predators are making it a madhouse with a strong start against the Anaheim Ducks in Game 6.
First, it was Austin Watson, who sent a puck off a Ducks skate to score a 1-0 goal on Nashville’s first shot on Jonathan Bernier, who is starting instead of John Gibson. That came about 90 seconds into the game, really revving up the crowd.
Colton Sissons scored his first goal of the Western Conference Final – on his first shot on goal of the series – to make it 2-0. At that point, Bernier had allowed two goals on three shots on goal. Bernier’s made a few stops since then, but it’s a shaky start for a Ducks team facing elimination.
There’s some solace in that Anaheim’s often at its best in dire situations, though you have to wonder how many times they can bounce back from this?
The Anaheim Ducks won’t have John Gibson back, but the Nashville Predators are dealing with some injury-related letdowns, too.
Craig Smith skated before Game 6, but he opted not to play on Monday. Mike Fisher is also unable to go for the Predators as they aim to eliminate Anaheim.
The Ducks also won’t have Rickard Rakell back in the mix, so this physical Western Conference Final continues to feel like a battle of attrition.
Click here for the official roster report.
Game 5 is airing on NBCSN right now. You can watch online and via the NBC Sports App.
CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE.