From the NY Times.com Slap Shot blog:
It’s just like the N.H.L. to pat itself on the back and trumpet its
great accomplishments, then turn around and stab itself in the back, or
at least shoot itself in the foot. It’s a pathology the league has
exhibited repeatedly when it comes to changes designed to improve the
No sooner did the league enthusiastically approve rules to take out
the two-line offside pass and crack down on obstruction tactics at the
end of the lockout than voices were raised by some coaches and general
managers against them. Even today, some want to bring
elements of obstruction back into the game.
The same is true with hits to the head. Oh, how the league celebrated itself for the
progressive half-step of outlawing blindside or lateral head shots! But
as soon as players actually started being penalized and even (gasp!) suspended
under new Rule 48, the inevitable whining commenced how this hit or
that hit really wasn’t what the rule intended to prohibit and if this
keeps up, body contact — which the league says has never been more
prevalent nor violent — will be threatened with extinction.
The most recent protesters are the San Jose Sharks, who just couldn’t
fathom that this hit by Joe Thornton on the Blues’ David Perron (video) violated the rule. Thornton got a major and game misconduct, as the rule
calls for, and was suspended two games, which was appealed by the
Sharks. The league denied the appeal.
Sharks contended that what Thornton did was exactly what Willie
Mitchell, then of the Canucks, did to the Blackhawks’ Jonathan Toews
last year (video) an incident that was shown on the league’s video to the clubs on what is
and what is not permissible under the new rule. But that was rejected
by the league? Why? Because Thornton didn’t do exactly what
Mitchell did. On Mitchell’s hit, Toews’s head was not the principle
point of contact.