New Head Check Rules A Step Forward

When it comes to checks to the head, the N.H.L. is trying something new
this season.

Earlier this week, the league released a video outlining
its new rules
on checks to the head delivered from the blindside or
laterally, which mandates an automatic game misconduct and either a
major or match penalty. The player also faces the possibility of
supplementary discipline.

The adoption of this rule is a step forward for the league. Until a rash
of blindside hits last season, the N.H.L. general managers as a group
had, for years, resisted calls for stronger rules on head shots.

One of the more celebrated hits last season, the one on the Bruins’ Marc
Savard delivered by the Penguins Matt Cooke has kept Savard from participating in preseason games, even though he
returned from the hit during last season’s playoffs. It is uncertain
when Savard will be able to return
to the lineup.

“You’re always worried about it when you have an athlete who has
lingering symptoms,” Dr. Mark Lovell. the founding director of the
University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Sports Medicine Concussion
Program, told’s
Joe McDonald
this week. “Everybody is different in terms of their
recovery rate, and while most people recover from concussions, some
people take longer than others. It’s really a highly individualized
thing, which is what makes it so challenging.

“Certainly, if people are having ongoing symptoms, they need to be
very careful and they need to be thoroughly evaluated.”

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