Thursday, March 1, 2007

NHL needs to change rules after Neil's hit on Drury

We have all seen the footage of the Ray Emery vs Martin Biron and Andrew Peters fights. We have also seen the footage of the Chris Neil on Chris Drury hit that started it all.

Most of us have also formed opinions on whether or not it was a legal hit (it was).

Despite the fact that Chris Drury has still not been able to return to the lineup due to a concussion suffered as a result of the hit the issue is NOT whether or not this is a legal hockey hit.

The issue is whether it should be.

At the On Frozen Blog site they posted a letter from Sabres owner Tom Golisano that seems to agree with this point, even though the blog doesn't.

This got me to thinking...

* The NHL has instituted rules that govern hits from behind in order to protect it's players.
* They have instituted rules that keep a player from taking an extended run at a target before delivering a hit.
* They have even instituted rules that protect a player from being hit when they do not have possession of the puck.
* But for some reason they shy away from creating rules to protect their players from otherwise legal hits that are clearly meant to cause injury.

Should Neil be fined and/or suspended for his actions? Or should it be the NHL itself that needs to accept the blame for this one?

The instigator rule has done a lot to reduce fighting across the NHL, or at least limit fights to an extent. It has not removed fighting from the game (Crosby forbid), instead it has forced players to at least briefly consider the consequences of starting a fight. I like this rule and I think we can extend this concept to other aspects of the game... like questionable hits.

My suggestion is that the NHL and NHLPA institute an 'Injurator' rule. This rule would be governed by the NHL after the fact and would not be assessed by on ice officials, this review would be trigger by:
Any deliberate contact that causes serious injury.

Deliberate contact is defined as:

* A player initiates contact
* A player makes no attempt to avoid contact
* Any body check, hit with a stick or any other contact between two players
* Does not include incidental contact or contact initiated by the other player

Serious injury is defined as:

* Any injury which causes a player to miss at least one game
* Any injury which causes a player to exit and not return to a game with at least 10 minutes left (not including overtime)
* Does include exacerbating existing injuries

This is my idea of how the 'Injurator' rule would work, but how should it be punished? I like the way the 'new' insigator rule works. The NHL would review and hits that cause serious injury and automatically tally the results for each hit caused by an injury. Any player who accumulates 5 'Injurator' infractions in a single season would be given a mandatory 2 game suspension.

So, what do you think? Good idea? Or have I been hitting the MLSE crack pipe too much lately?

From a Fantasy Hockey perspective, it gives us a new stat to add to our leagues. The Injurator stat would be a negative one of course... just like PIM's are... right?

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