Following Sidney Crosby’s concussion, people have been debating as to whether the rules and regulations in hockey need to be changed.
For Taylor Whyte, the hits are a fundamental part of the game as he says, “That’s what hockey is. If you change the rules now no one is going to watch it. You might as well go and watch paint dry. People watch hockey because of the possible chance of fights and hits, sure some people care if their favourite team wins, but hockey is hockey so why change it now?”
Kaitlynn Seitz disagrees, “There should be no hits allowed at all. Because, it’s dangerous and there are a lot of injuries.”
Kyle Sedan finds his opinion in between, saying hits should be kept in the game, but the severity should be addressed.
“I think at this point from a professional level, the NHL is taking measures to reduce the hits that target the head,” he says. “It will take time before everyone understands how it works and it also cannot be totally prevented. The only way to do that would be to eliminate contact all together which will just ruin the game of hockey.”
The National Hockey League has cracked down on deliberate hits. The most serious suspension so far was to James Wisniewski of the Columbus Blue Jackets, who received an 11-game suspension for deliberately hitting Cal Clutterbuck in the head.
Amy Henderson agrees that steps like this are needed to change the game, however she doesn’t think that we should go overboard in policing everything.
“Hockey is a contact sport, and I don't think that should be changed,” she says. “The players know and accept the inherent risks when they put on their skates. Preventing all hits/checking would start a slippery slope that could potentially have a negative effect on all sports-what would be next? Flag football in the NFL? 25-mile-an-hour races in NASCAR? I think that the sanctioning bodies should look at finding better body, head, and neck protection as technology changes, perhaps even energy-absorbing rink barriers, but not allowing players to hit each other at all is the wrong answer for the sport.”
However, Scott Murie counters that argument saying that the equipment has gotten too tough lately and a simple elbow hit feels like a hit from a baseball bat. Keith Parkes agrees, adding that the new equipment has the kids wearing a suit of armour from head to toe, which in exchange actually creates more injuries.
The debate was brought up due to numerous injuries through the National Hockey League, however it has also been brought up in the minor leagues and often is a fear of many parents.
Ash Molyneaux says that in minor hockey, there shouldn’t be any hitting at all, however in contrast, Sedan says the issue with the hits should begin at the minor league level with teaching.
“From a minor level stand point, I personally think a lot of coaches shy away from teaching hitting for various reasons,” he says. “But it's a vital part of hockey, and I think if kids are taught the proper way from a young age on how to properly hit. It will ultimately help prevent injuries to themselves and others in the future. No matter what is done, hockey is a contact sport and injuries will always occur, but there are ways to prevent them as much as possible.”
Parkes adds that, “Kids waste too much time trying to kill each other and are not taught how to hit properly. They waste too much energy doing this. How to take a body check is just as important as how to deliver one. My 13-year-old plays rep hockey and his mother cringes every time he gets hit. Kids should be taught to keep their head up and be aware of who is around them.
While there are many ways to address the hits, there is always the question of why they continue to get worse each year. Five or 10 years ago, this wasn’t a topic that was brought up in the news. However, following a season with 50 of 5,000 hits being to the head (as according to the Houston Chronicle) and with doctors fearing the amount of concussions, it is a topic in which many are now discussing.
Brian Watt references the loss of respect for opponents, saying the culture of the game has to change by taking out blindside hits and shots to the head.
“If someone hits from behind they should be suspended,” he adds. “We have to get the head shots out of the game with all the concussions that have occurred at both the pro and the amateur level. There has to be a no tolerance to anyone that makes dangerous hits not to illuminate hits but illuminate dirty hits that may hurt someone.”