Here, according to Greg Wyshynski at Puck Daddy, is a comparisson between the NHL’s old (as in one-year-old) and new rules regarding headshots:
…and here is my proposed headshot rule, circa March 7, 2010:
(1) Any hit that either (a) contacts only the head or (b) contacts the head before any other part of the body, whether intentional or unintentional on the part of the player initiating the hit, should be a minor penalty.
(2) Any hit where, in the referee’s determination, the player initiating the hit deliberately (a) targetted only the head or (b) targetted the head before any other part of the body should be a match penalty.
I referred back to that proposed rule in two other posts, one on March 9, 2010, and one on April 17 of that same year. Combined, those three posts have 173 hits. As I see it, the evidence is incontrovertible: I have single-handedly saved the NHL from its headshot problem. While I’m at it, let me say hello to Brendan Shanahan, who is obviously a reader. Hi, Shannie. Nice work. Sorry you didn’t join the Blueshirts when you were a little younger.
In all seriousness, I love the new rule. I only hope it’s enforced the way it’s written. Under the new rule, the infamous Richards-on-Booth hit is a penalty, as it would be under the “old” rule. This Kaleta-on-Markov hit, which would have been legal under the old rule, is now a penalty, as it should be – but the catastrophic-yet-accidental Steckel-Crosby collision at the Winter Classic would still be legal. That’s a good rule.
Will there be complaining? Absolutely, there will be. Plenty of fans (and commentators, and journalists) will complain about specific hits that seem accidental or unavoidable. I will say as I have said in the past: this is an NHL that presently enforces minor penalties for (a) accidentally clearing the puck over the glass, and (b) accidentally breaking an opponent’s stick. Surely, protecting the health of players’ brains is worth the same measures we use to prevent broken equipment and play stoppages, even if it means a few wrong calls.
While the NHL is making my rule-change dreams come true, I have another recommendation: First, let’s start enforcing that diving rule a little more regularly. Then, let’s change the rules so that instead of offsetting minors, a diving penalty negates the original call and forces the diver’s team to kill a penalty. I give it until Christmas before diving is essentially eliminated from the game.