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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Was that really necessary?

In a previous post, I noted that the NHL was looking into addressing the issue of head shots. This week, the NHL will have their chance to prove that they are, in fact, serious about removing this unnecessary part from the game.

Tonight, Dean McAmmond suffered a concussion while on the receiving end of a Steve Downie check. Downie, who is known as an "energy" player, delivered an overly dirty hit as he left his feet, launching his body like a missile, and hitting McAmmond's head square on with his shoulder. The Senators' forward was knocked out instantly and laid motionless on the ice as teammates came to the rescue. McAmmond, coming off a concussion from the Stanley Cup Finals, had to be taken off the ice in a stretcher.

Is a hit like this really necessary, especially in an exhibition game? This is a recurring problem in sports and it seems to be particularly an issue during exhibition games when players are doing anything to get noticed while trying to secure a roster-spot. Downie is a young player fighting to make the team and there is pressure for him to perform at a high level and show that he belongs on the Flyers. For McAmmond, he is already an established veteran trying to get ready for the season. It is a theme that will continue as long as exhibition games are around.

The NHL has suspended Downie indefinitely. If/When he returns to play for the Flyers this season he will be expected to face the wrath of Brian McGrattan, who, in Bertuzzi-like fashion, vowed to get his revenge on Downie.

"A guy can't defend himself and you take a 40-foot run and jump and hit him. Hopefully the league takes a look at it. Those are the hits we don't want in our game. He'll get what's coming to him. He'll get what's coming to him next time we play him, that's for sure."

Yesterday, I came across an article posted by Eric McElrain at the AOL Fanhouse that is definitely worth a read, titled "Is the NHL Ignoring a Concussion Problem". They definitely will not be ignoring the severity of this hit. McAmmond is likely to be out for a while and, with his history of concussions, could miss the entire season. In fact, at the age of 34, this serious concussion could force him into early retirement.

We can only speculate how many games Downie will receive. Cam Janssen recieved only three games for his hit on Thomas Kaberle. If Collin Campbell and the NHL are as serious as they claim about getting rid of these cheap head shots, then this is the time to prove it. Downie must receive at least a 15 game suspension. A clear message must be sent to the players.

For Illegal Curve, I'm Michael Remis

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