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Dreger: Some players feel head hit rule didn't go far enough

Darren Dreger
3/26/2010 9:00:04 PM
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The steps taken this week to deal with head hits have been widely supported by NHL players; however there are some who believe the league hasn't gone far enough.

One year ago, Paul Kelly, then the NHLPA's executive director, along with Glenn Healy, at the time the NHLPA's manager of player affairs, presented league GM's with a rule proposal that included a minor, a major and a match penalty for the following.

"A hit to the head is a check delivered on a player who is not aware of the impending hit and therefore unable to protect or defend himself and the checking player intentionally or recklessly targets and makes contact with the head of the opposing player with any part of his body, including hand, forearm, elbow or shoulder."

This rule sounds similar to what the NHL implemented this week, but it covered more ground.

The NHL says the hit Vancouver's Willie Mitchell laid on Chicago's Jonathan Toews in October is legal under the new rules, however if the union's proposal had been accepted, Mitchell would have been penalized and perhaps, faced suspension.

According to an NHLPA survey conducted last season, 75% of NHL players strongly favor a rule against targeted hits to the head, and not just those from the blindside.

The league intends on opening next season with penalty options that include a two minute minor or a five minute major; still to be determined is whether a game misconduct will automatically be attached with the major penalty.

Wednesday, on an NHL and NHLPA conference call, the union questioned the NHL on whether it made more sense to introduce the penalties immediately, in tow with the threat of supplemental discipline.

The league convinced the players it didn't, as more work is needed to establish the standard in which each penalty will be assessed.

Darren Dreger

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