There has been the ongoing issue of blind side hits and what the penalty should be for it. The National Hockey League has done its best to eliminate these dangerous hits, by dishing out suspensions and fines.
One of the most recent incidents was last week when the Buffalo Sabers played the Chicago Blackhawks. Blackhawks defenseman, Niklas Hjalmarsson, hit Sabers forward, Jason Pominville, from behind. Leaving him with a concussion and 7-8 stitches. If you ask me the play was not clean and the NHL got it right on this one. Every hockey player knows you do not hit someone when you see their numbers facing you.
Hjalmarsson was given a five minute major and a game misconduct. After review, he was then handed a two game suspension for the hit.
“My intention wasn’t to hurt him,” Hjalmarsson said after the game. “You never want to see someone laying on the ice like that.”
I do believe that Hjalmarsson had no intentions of injuring Pominville. He was trying to make a good defensive play when he read that the puck was coming up the boards to Pominville. Any defenseman that knows the game would have done the same and pinched down. Hjalmarsson unfortunately hit him too early and from behind. His instincts were correct, but he needs to be careful in the future when he is put in the same situation.
There have been many issues similar to this one. Last year there was the Mike Richards hit on David Booth, and the Matt Cooke hit on Marc Savard. The NHL is trying to eliminate hits like this from the game. I think they are on the right track, but it is a hard thing to do with a high speed physical game.
However, I believe that the NHL needs to take into account all aspects of the situation. A lot of stuff out there is incidental and in the end that is hockey. People are going to get hurt out there. It is understandable what they are trying to do and I totally agree with it. The only thing that I hope does not happen is the league getting softer and to the point where people are too worried about getting a suspension or fine and stop playing physical.
I know that the NFL has had similar issues with helmet to helmet hits. I agree that players need to be more careful, but the right discipline needs to take place for certain situations. Both games are moving at high speeds and everything happens so fast out there, so things like this are going to happen. Players do need to be more careful but it is something that is always going to happen. I have had players that turned on me last second when I went to hit them. Things happen, that’s hockey. So NHL please take the right precautions regarding this issue, so the physical aspect does not disappear. However, I believe they are going down the right road right now.