NHL

McKenzie: NHL needs clear, tangible definition of what's legal

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Bob McKenzie
3/8/2010 7:38:59 PM
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I'm not sure that NHL Vice President Colin Campbell knows exactly which way to go on the Matt Cooke/Marc Savard hit, and the fact that he's got all 30 general managers here to bounce things off is kind of an interesting forum to talk about this one.

I think if you look at Cooke's history and the fact that he's had two previous suspensions for targeting someone and hitting somebody's head, you want to say, 'Well yeah, there's likely to be a suspension here'. But if you look at it and just for a moment forget about who the player is, and look at the hit itself? Not altogether different than Mike Richards on David Booth, which kind of launched this whole debate in the first place, but not something that was suspendable in the eyes of the NHL.

At this point, I'm not sure which way they're going to go.

The bottom line is, 'Do you want to have a legal check that allows a player to take his shoulder and put it into another player's head?'

I think if they just asked that question, the answer you'd get from the vast majority of general managers would be, 'We don't necessarily want to make a blanket condemnation of a shoulder-to-head check.'

We saw Alexander Ovechkin in the Olympics hit Jaromir Jagr. It was a clean open-ice body check, there's no question. Jagr suffered a concussion on the play, he took Ovechkin's shoulder to the head. They don't want to eliminate that hit from hockey, but the Richards-on-Booth hit, the Cooke-on-Savard hit? Yes, they do.

So they've got to start looking at some really detailed breakdowns of what it is they're trying to get out of the game. In most of the cases, I think they're going to come up with the word "blind-side".

But when you come up with that word, you've got to be able to make it tangible so that a coach, a manager, a referee, a fan, the media, the players themselves know what is and what isn't legal.

Marc Savard on stretcher (Photo: Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
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