Head shots are front and centre once again in the National Hockey League. Recent incidents have spurred the league's general managers to push for a rule change banning hits to the head, and polls seem to show strong fan support for such a change.
But as with any potential new rule, there are several questions that arise, such as how such a rule would be enforced and what type of discipline would be meted out.
Up for discussion: what should be the punishment for head shots? Should it be up to the referees on the ice, or should it be the decision of NHL disciplinarian Colin Campbell?
Campbell appeared on XM radio show "NHL Live" to address some of the possibilities, as word came that the league was looking to institute the rule as soon as possible.
"There are a number of things that you do have to expedite when you do this in-season. I don't anticipate doing anything with a penalty call on the ice right now," said Campbell. "I think that would be a difficult thing to consistently administer at this point in time, but that's not our issue. Our issue probably is making sure that some of the hits that have been experienced can be dealt with from a supplemental discipline aspect."
Assuming a penalty call is put in place, what would be deemed an appropriate punishment for breaking the head shot rule once it is instituted? A five-minute major? A game misconduct and a fine? A multi-game suspension?
The players are asking for a clear outline from the NHL on what would be acceptable and what would not and, by all accounts, the league plans on giving it to them. A DVD is being produced for teams to watch in order to concretely establish what is allowed and what is not.
Will it be a cut-and-dry issue or will there be some middle ground?
Campbell said it's important "that all the key people in the game know...the players, most importantly, the media, the fans, everyone knows it, so there's no grey area here when something might happen again."
Most fans of the game would probably agree that it's not in anyone's interest to see marquee players sidelined for long periods of time because of a questionable hit.
"When we opened this game up, there was a ying for yang and we had a lot more car crashes. And the car crashes were legal based upon shoulders hitting heads," said Campbell. "But we've got to make an attempt to reduce the concussions and we've been doing that."