A few thoughts on making all head shots illegal


Earlier today we passed along the opinion of concussion and brain injury expert Dr. Charles Tator, who believes it’s time for all contact with the head to be taken out of hockey.

A zero-tolerance approach to head contact has also been promoted by players like Sidney Crosby, who said in September, “If a guy’s got to be responsible with his stick, why shouldn’t he be responsible with the rest of his body when he’s going to hit someone?”

Others have argued that if the NFL can have a zero-tolerance approach to helmet contact in certain situations, the NHL can too.

But are those comparisons really appropriate?

First off, ensuring your stick doesn’t come up and make contact with a player’s head is a lot easier than ensuring your shoulder doesn’t. The blade of a stick spends most of the time on the ice. The shoulder doesn’t. Zdeno Chara can be expected to keep his stick far away from an opponent’s head when making a body check. Ditto for his hands, arms and elbows. Not so much for his shoulders.

As for the NFL comparison, a football tackle is considerably different than a hockey check. In football, the pass rusher is taught to wrap up the quarterback around the legs or lower torso and take him down. In hockey, that’s called holding.

Not to mention, a hockey player making a defensive play needs to stay on his feet. A football tackle almost always results in the defensive player going to the ground.

And let’s not pretend all head contact is illegal in football, because it’s not.


Look, chances are we’ll get to the point where all head shots are illegal and tall players like Chara will just have to adapt. If a few unjust minor penalties get called, so be it. It’s not a huge price to pay if it improves player safety.

Hockey Canada already takes a zero-tolerance approach.

Just thought I’d raise a few points to consider.

Welcome back, Babs: Red Wings chase Bernier

Mike Babcock
1 Comment

Mike Babcock admitted that there might be a painful transformation as he tries to fix the Toronto Maple Leafs.

His old friends made that abundantly, painfully clear on Friday.

As of this writing, the Detroit Red Wings are up 4-0 on the Buds. Justin Abdelkader just completed a hat trick with James Reimer in net, so the subplot isn’t just about Jonathan Bernier having another tough start.

The big story might just be Detroit’s varied new line of Abdelkader, Dylan Larkin (who scored his first career goal) and Henrik Zetterberg. At the moment, they’ve combined for seven points.

This post will be updated if Detroit’s tribute video to Babcock surfaces.

Really, though, this beating has been about as ugly as this blanket so far.

Blue Jackets’ Wennberg done for night with upper-body injury

Alexander Wennberg, Jay Bouwmeester
1 Comment

It wouldn’t be a regular season game without a Columbus Blue Jackets injury, right?

OK, the Blue Jackets hope that 2015-16 looks different from the medically challenged mess of last season, but at least one player is banged up tonight.

Alexander Wennberg suffered an upper-body injury and won’t return on Friday, as the team noted.

There’s no word yet regarding how serious the issue might be. It looks like he might have suffered an injury thanks to a Chris Kreider check:

Naturally, the Blue Jackets must hope that this doesn’t begin another trend.