NHL Hitting Up Despite Paranoid Claims to the Contrary

Image and video hosting by TinyPicAny time a new rule enters the National Hockey League, the purists go nuts. There’s usually a whole litany of whining and complaining about the integrity of the game, about how fighting will be taken out and there’ll be no more hitting. There’s often a few homosexual slurs thrown in and Don Cherry hauls out the whole shebang by acting out scenarios involving little prissy hockey players skating circles around each other.

Yawn.

It wasn’t surprising that a similar chorus rose up when the NHL decided it was high time to “discourage” blindside hits to the head. “It will take hitting out forever,” we were told by paranoid fans. “Hockey is a contact game and that would be threatened because of the ruling,” they cried.

For those poor unfortunate souls to whom the actual goal of hockey (putting the puck in the net, remember?) is incidental, these new and dastardly and girlish and sissy rules would doubtlessly threaten the integrity of the game. Who needs goal-scorers when you can fill a team up with brutes, after all?

But for those with a sense of, you know, balance, the integrity of hockey as a sport isn’t threatened by adapting the rules to meet the changes in the game. The players are bigger, the equipment is bigger, the speed of the game is faster, and so on. New situations require new approaches.

So the blindside hit rule was put in, finally, and the hitting in the game came to a screeching halt, right? Wrong.

According to league statistics, hitting is actually on the rise. An average of 45.5 hits per game were recorded in the 750 regular season games leading up to the recent All-Star break. That’s up from the 43.9 hits per game recorded in the same period last year and significantly up from the 37 hits per game recorded in the same period in the 2007-2008 season.

So where does that leave us? Why is hitting on the rise in the National Hockey League despite so many nauseating controls to keep the contact out of the game and convert the rough, tough hockey players to whiny, sissy “Europeans?”

It couldn’t have anything to do with the fact that the players feel generally safer and have more room to move, could it? It wouldn’t have anything to do with the notion that, at the very least, the illusion of suitable punishment exists?

League officials have a long way to go to ensuring that a consistent game is put forth, that’s for sure, but the rule changes taking place currently are good. They are vital, modern steps in the right direction.

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2 thoughts on “NHL Hitting Up Despite Paranoid Claims to the Contrary

  1. Absolutely have to disagree with your premise, stats, and point of view. Hockey is being watered down, just like the NFL…..as more money is infused into the sport, the owners pay more for talent, and they don’t want that high paid talent wasted………very sad…as this will change the sport slowly into something akin to basketball on ice….free throws anyone? As for the hitting stats…kept by the league of course….the question is one of “what defines a hit”….would that be just bumping into someone…..or really going to clean an opponent’s clock and change the game/break their will………………….for all those who need scoring or want to jump on controlled violence at the drop of a hat……try hoops, ping pong, or darts….leave hard, tough, almost scary sports to those of us who still have a pair.

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  2. hockeydraftnewsroom April 30, 2011 — 1:30 am

    Bsmith, thanks for the comment. You can disagree with my point of view all you like and I respect that, but the stats are the stats and you can’t really concoct your own facts and figures. The somewhat murky area about what “defines a hit” is a red herring in the overall context of this discussion, as these are the stats kept by the league and that’s really what this plays around. Hitting is up, believe it or not, and the semantics won’t change that. The reason this is the case is because the NHL “definition” of hitting hasn’t differed in the time between the period in which the stats went up. In order for the stats to be problematic, in other words, the league would have had to have altered the definition of what a hit is.

    Also, I’m getting quite tired of the whole machismo approach to the game of hockey. It’s not “sad” that owners don’t want talent wasted; it’s a fact of sports in general. Hockey, like all sports, must progress with new knowledge and information. We know more about how to protect players, so we do so. It’s smart. It’s stupid not to. I don’t see any good reason to bathe in our ignorance in such a way as to not protect players from harm. The only reason I see to keep hockey in the Dark Ages is because of nonsensical, disturbing bloodlust.

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