So I just saw the hit on Daniel Sedin that required him to be fitted with a neck collar and stretchered off. A fairly routine hit/shove from behind in the NHL, in terms of its perfidy and intensity, but the result was anything but routine.
And that's another in a long list of problems with the NHL. People are always getting hit from behind, constantly, thirty or fourty times a game. Hockey players are gamers though, they absorb the contact, smear their snot on the glass, shake off the cobwebs for a second, then keep playing. They keep grinding, and cycling, and finishing their checks.
Unless you get a dirty Bruin, one of Don Cherry's noble warriors, one of those guys will give you the mother of all fake dives.
I'll ask again: why is hitting anyone in the back, permissible, or tolerated, in any circumstances, at all? Why is it just penalized when a victim's head is projected into the boards, but not the rest of the time?
In football, you can't block from behind. If you're behind someone, he has the advantage on you, plain and simple. He's faster than you, quicker than you, closer to the play, and that's just too bad for you. Run faster if you want to make the play.
Why can't we make that very simple change to the game, that would benefit the skill players, would increase scoring, and improve player safety? Because it makes too much sense? Let's give the player with the puck the advantage, he can't be hit from behind, ever, in whatever manner or with any level of force. No tolerance.
If Sidney Crosby has the puck and you want to hit him, and he turns his back to you, that's fair game for him. He has the puck, he has the advantage. Be quicker, more agile. He's allowed to protect the puck from you, to play keepaway.
Currently, you can push, shove, crosscheck, crosscheck harder, slash, spear, you name it, whatever you want to do to someone in the back is fine, unless that person falls or dives, and what the state of accounts is currently in the game/series. If you've already had a couple of powerplays in the game, be careful, since the refs will want to even things up. A penalty is not a penalty unless a debit exists somewhere.
Yesterday, Kris Letang, freshly back from a stroke and a thirty-game absence, while trying to get a shot off on net from the slot, was crosschecked from behind by Scott Hartnell, who then proceeded to fall on top of the Penguin defender. After the resultant scuffle, both were sent to the penalty box for a minor roughing penalty.
What absolute madness is this? Why is a thug like Scott Hartnell allowed to bludgeon a player trying to play hockey. Why didn't he get six or seven penalties, a mix of minor and majors and misconducts and 'attempts to injure'?
Hey, Gary Bettman, you mendacious fool, I'm talking to you! Stop peering at spreadsheets and fix your broken league. Stop paying lip service to player safety and do something tangible about it.