The Canadiens Mike Cammalleri was a guest today on TSN’s “Off The Record” with Michael Landsberg at the NHLPA golf outing (video) and talk turned to headshots and his role as a member of the NHL-NHLPA Competition Committee. As part of that group, Cammalleri is involved in all the matters that pertain to the state of the game and the rules, and the hottest topic in that realm remains hits to the head and concussions. Cammalleri called it “a sensitive issue” and “the focus of this summer.”
He’s been involved in day-long meeting on the Committee, representing the players and their feelings about where the game should go in this area.
Asked his personal feelings on the subject by Landsberg, how far he is willing to go to make the game safer, Cammalleri stated, “For me, if you’re asking me, pretty far. I think when it comes to a toughness needed to play the game, that’s important, and I think you find that in a lot of different ways. Let’s play as tough a brand as you want. If it’s going to take a broken limb here and there, I’m OK with that. I know that might sound a little harsh. But when it comes to the brain, I think we can’t be ignorant and we have to be very aware of what’s taking place with brain injuries so I’d like to see them clean that up.”
He continued, “I think there’s a certain vulnerability now because of the speed of the game to the player who still has an awareness that didn’t take place in years before.”
Landsberg asked, “Is there any excuse to hit a guy in the head?”
“It can happen just because, once again, the speed is so fast and there’s going to be some inherent risk,” Cammalleri answered, “but I think that the responsiblity on the hitter should be much more and that there is a way to do it without hitting the head.”
The new Rule 48, which strengthens the old blindside and lateral hit to the head rule for next season will make many more hits that intentially target the head illegal. No longer will there be a “hitting zone” behind the net and the checker can be penalized for a north-south hit if the the referee rules the hit could be avoided. But some hits to the head to vulnerable players will be permitted if the player is ruled to have put himself in postition to be hit in the head, a very gray area that will likely cause much controvery in the upcoming season.
Landsburg also told Cammalleri that P.K. Subban told him he was cheering for the Bruins in the Stanley Cup Finals. Landsberg asked Cammalleri if he believed Subban and Cammalleri responded, “I believe him. He tells the truth. He says a lot, but he tells the truth.”
Then Landsberg asked Cammalleri who he was rooting for in the Finals. The response? “I would have rather seen Vancouver win. I have some friends there….It’s tough to see the rival win.” Landsberg kept at it. What if the Bruins were playing San Jose? “Maybe San Jose,” Cammalleri answered. What about Boston against Moscow Dynamo? “It’d be the Moscow Dynamo.”
Asked by Landsberg how long it took him to get over the disappointment of losing to Boston in a seventh game overtime, Cammalleri said, “Not long….Pretty much right after, I was exciting about next year. I mean, when you lose, you lose. But the idea is wanting to win one of those Stanley Cups and you can’t do it once you lose, so it’s about getting ready for next year.”