While Boston Bruins head coach Claude Julien accepts the four-game suspension that was handed down to forward Dan Paille for his blind-side hit on Dallas Stars forward Raymond Sawada, he's not terribly happy with the circumstances of the incident.
Julien told ESPNBoston that he feels as though a great deal of the responsibility should fall on the shoulders of the player getting hit to avoid putting themselves in a dangerous situation as they attempt to draw a penalty.
"Until the players themselves in their minds think about stopping putting themselves in vulnerable positions, whether it's playing with your head down or whether it's playing by the boards and seeing you're going to get hit and turning your back, or whatever the case may be," Julien told ESNPBoston. "I think if the players start taking that responsibility it's going to minimize a lot of these things."
Julien went further, stating that the ability for a player to protect themselves from danger should be engrained a long time before reaching the professional ranks.
"Once you're in the pros, you've been told for many, many years never to play with your head down, so if he hasn't learned by now, he shouldn't be in the pros."
Julien is certainly familiar with the dangers of headshots in the NHL after recently losing playmaking centre Marc Savard to his second major concussion suffered in the past 10 months. Savard remains sidelined indefinitely and there is plenty of talk that he may be forced to retire due to concussion issues.
Julien also used one of his own players, Patrice Bergeron, as an example of a player that has learned from past mistakes. Back in 2007, Bergeron suffered a major concussion after being drilled from behind into the boards by Randy Jones of the Philadelphia Flyers. While Bergeron is finally back at full power, it took him more than a full season to shake off the after effects. Julien said that Bergeron now knows to spin off a check to protect himself rather than taking the full force of the hit.
"I know if I was the player, I wouldn't want to have a concussion and I would try and avoid putting myself in those situations," Julien told ESPNBoston. "That's all I'm saying, to me I think that until the players really need to take it upon themselves, you're still going to have those things happening and we can minimize that if they do their part. That's my opinion."