Sunday, March 13, 2011

Sickening Hits must Stop

Andrew Cohen writes an incisive criticism of the National Hockey League and its tolerance for hard hits on the ice. Many severe concussions have resulted including the recent injury given to Pittsburgh Penguins' captain Sidney Crosby which has sidelined him for months.

This past week another major body check almost led to a fatality or paralysis:

"A life long Canadiens' fan, I saw the whole thing live on television. A huge, hulking, skilled defenseman for the Boston Bruins, a 6'9," 260-pound ball of fury named Zdeno Chara, nearly killed Montreal Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty during the second period of the game. As Pacioretty tried to scoot past the lumbering Chara, the defenseman lunged at him and violently pasted Pacioretty's head into a stanchion separating the glassed portion of the rink with its non-glassed portion. I have been watching hockey faithfully for nearly 40 years and I cannot remember a more devastating hit."

(You may see the sickening hit in the first part of the video here.)

Cohen believes that the NHL is suffering from all the negative publicity. Even major sponsors are withdrawing.

"If Chara's hit is, indeed, just "a part of the game," then the game had better change—now, today —before it alienates more fans and sponsors and injures more players. That means the rules of engagement on the ice must change. This is not your grandfather's hockey. The players are bigger, stronger and faster. Their skates are better. So is the ice..."

Some fans like the hard hitting in hockey and football. It's part of the excitement and thrill of the game they say. However, more and more are sickened by it and want major changes.

How tragic for talented athletes to have their careers ended in a devastating hit.