Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Stéphane Robidas decks Shawn Matthias, skates away from supplemental discipline. So it goes...

Marc Crawford is on the phone with Bro Jake and Dave Pratt of TSN 1040 Vancouver, defending Stéphane Robidas’ hit on Shawn Matthias, saying that he played for him for two years and he’s “not that kind of player”.

This headshot and concussion crisis is never going to change until the mindset changes. I’m sick of hearing that the never ending parade of player committing dirty deeds are really just good boys at heart, that I’d love Chris Neil if he played for my team.

It’s so, so frigging simple. If a player hits another player in the head, or knee on knee, it’s automatically a penalty. Period. No muddling through the player’s intentions when he tried to crush his opponent. If he misses and hits him in the face or neck or head, it’s a penalty with automatic, severe consequences for him and his team.

The NFL has a much better handle on this. You can’t rough the kicker, period. If you hit the punter when he’s in the act of punting, it’s a penalty, automatically, unless you actually get your hand on the ball and block the punt. Cut and dried.  No exegesis of the defender's intentions before he snaps the punter’s patellar tendon.

Same with roughing the passer penalties. If you hit the QB when he has the ball, fill your boots, hit him hard, as long as you don’t piledrive him or hit him in the head or dive at his knees. If you’re a half-step too late, ease off, hold on to the quarterback and make sure you don’t deck him if your momentum actually carries you into him, or it’ll be fifteen yards against your team, and your coach won’t be too happy when you get to the sidelines.

Critics argued that the game was too fast and players wouldn’t be able to avoid contact, but the penalties have had their effect, and defenses have adjusted. It hasn’t ruined or pansified the game, everyone is actually getting richer. The sport is better if Aaron Rodgers and Andrew Luck are actually playing on Sundays rather than on IR. And the line, while still debatable on some calls, has been moved significantly in the direction of greater player safety, and of letting spectators enjoy a great sport that allows the stars to wow us.

The NHL, and the abysmal Colin Campbell, could easily move the bar, set the standard like the NFL did, and impose a strict liability on a player about to bodycheck another that if you get out of position and you ‘miss’ or are about to miss your bodycheck, you have to let your opponent go, rather than extending an arm or elbow, reaching out to make contact, sticking out your knee to not let him by you. It’s on you to make the check legally, or let your opponent go.

But that would be common sense. It would go against the circuits hard-wired in the calcified brain of an old no-talent thumper like Colin Campbell who thinks that the game will shrivel up and die if his idiot son isn’t allowed to “finish his checks” and “play with an edge”, that grinders have to be given a chance or else the skill guys will take over, and who knows where that might lead.

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