Saturday, 13 October 2007

Keep The Ball Rolling

Jesse Boulerice will be joining Steve Downie on the shelf for quite sometime. Colin Campbell followed precedent in handing Boulerice a twenty-five game suspension, much in the same fashion he gave Chris Simon twenty-five games to think about using a stick on someone's head. I applaud Mr. Campbell's decision regarding this situation, and encourage him to do more to end headshots. And that brings me to the hit in Nashville delivered by Jordin Tootoo to the head of Daniel Winnik. This is the kind of hit that could have ended much worse. Personally, I think Jordin Tootoo should be parked for twenty games as well. However, I'll let watch the video below before I expand on this. And listen to the announcers. They'll give you an idea of exactly what happened.

I find it hard to believe that Jordin Tootoo didn't receive a penalty, let alone a suspension, for this hit. The NHL has said that the hit was legal as Winnik had the puck and should have had his head up. Granted, that is true, but let's look at what Tootoo did to make this situation far uglier.

Start with the six strides he takes in his approach to hit Winnik. Much like Downie's hit, he increased his speed in order to make the hit more violent. Physics says that if you're moving faster, the resulting collision will be far greater. In this case, it was.

The next problem was that Tootoo wasn't even covering anyone. His man is the defenseman on the lower portion of the video. He watches the play develop, and then skates in from the top of the faceoff circle. Again, he speeds up as he cruises in. That's over twenty feet of room from where Tootoo left to where he nailed Winnik. Anyone here care to say that this wasn't pre-meditated? He lined up Winnik from the moment he saw Winnik leave the opposite corner.

How many more of these vicious hits do we need to see? Thankfully Winnik wasn't hurt on the play, but it's not like Tootoo isn't a repeat offender when it comes to vicious shots to the head. Remember Stephane Robidas?

Stephane Robidas didn't even have his hands up, and he was sucker-punched by Tootoo. The hit that Tootoo threw on Modano was legal, and all Robidas was coming over to do was to let Tootoo know that hitting a star like that wouldn't be tolerated. Instead, all Robidas saw was stars.

I get the fact that Tootoo is a "Charlie Hustle" guy for the Predators. I know he's supposed to go out there and energize the team with a big hit. He's a scrappy player who does whatever he can to get under the skin of other players, and the Predators need a guy like that.

What the game of hockey doesn't need is a head-hunter. With that in mind, Jordin Tootoo should be sat down for his blatent and obviously pre-meditated hit in "Death Valley". Colin Campbell has already ruled that the hit was legal according to the rules, but sometimes what is legal is not always right. That's why we append laws and change rules in society. We do it so that there aren't injustices when circumstances change. The NHL needs to evolve as well. Removing these kinds of vicious hits will only serve the game better.

In looking at the violence of these types of hits, E from A Theory Of Ice presents an excellent argument. It's a long read, but well worth it. Hockey isn't just some video game on TV. Real people are playing this game, and these types of hits only serve to ruin the image and integrity of the game of hockey. If the NFL and CFL can ban hits the heads, why can't the NHL?

I leave you with that question to ponder. Keep the ball rolling, Colin Campbell. Suspend everyone until headshots are gone.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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