Craig Button of NHL on the Fly has got very upset over the recent injuries of Dallas Stars' players after collisions with Douglas Murray. Anybody who's been paying attention knows that head injuries have become a big fad in the media as of late, but what shocks me is that now the discussion is not about illegal hits to the head, it's about player safety. These hits from Douglas Murray are perfectly legal and Craig Button is trying to crucify him. Button actually used the term "undue force." What the fuck is that? Players get injured just running into Douglas Murray. How can you possibly chastise a defenseman for playing the puck and knocking down the player? What's funny about this is that everybody is searching for an answer to stop the head injuries without taking hitting out of the game and the conversation goes something like this:
"Since the rules have been changed to speed up the game by eliminating hooking, holding, and interference, the number of reported concussions has gone way up. How can we change the rules further in order to stop players from injuring each other? Hmmmm. Let's think about it. Hmmmm. There doesn't seem to be any way around it without taking hitting out of the game or penalizing all head contact."
Either it has occurred to no one to change the rules back to slow the play down or no one is willing to publicly consider it. Is the NHL simply too arrogant to admit that it might have been wrong to speed the game up to dangerous levels? Or is the faster pace is simply more important to them than player safety and/or hitting in the game?
The thing is: I like the fast pace. Everybody likes the fast pace. Not once since the rule changes have I heard anybody lament the elimination of the two-line pass rule. But I also like the physicality of the sport. Everybody does. If we liked slow, non-contact sports, we'd all be sitting around watching pre-season baseball right now, falling asleep in armchairs with half-finished bottles of beer resting on our guts.
The last option seems to be to penalize all head contact, which would inevitably lead to a lot more bullshit penalties for accidental head contact or diving, which is a penalty that exists already, so we know the referees are terrible at calling it.
So I put it to you. Would you rather see the speed of the game diminished, the hitting eliminated, or head injuries?