So the media is on the whole headshot kick again when it comes to NHL players.
For some reason, there are more headshots nowadays than ever before.
The latest happened yesterday, while Matt Cooke nailed Marc Savard with an elbow to the head.
Now that sort of thing never happened in the 1980s (or at least, not to the level that it is now), but players were more dangerous back then. Why is that? Did they respect each other more?
No, it’s because there’s no accountability for these players on or off the ice.
Case in point, when Cooke hit Savard with the elbow, what happened immediately afterwards? Nothing. No gloves were dropped, no stickwork, not even a facewash (watch the video of the hit and the aftermath here).
So what would have happened back in the 80s if someone had done this? It’s easy. The team’s tough guy would have taken his opponent and pounded him until the guy couldn’t feel his funny bone, much less be able to hit someone with it.
But because of the league’s instigator rule, that doesn’t happen anymore. There’s nothing to stop these guys from running around with no fear. It’s why guys like Sean Avery, Maxim Lapierre, Cooke and others can go around acting cowardly.
Off the ice, the league just doesn’t do enough to protect its players. Alexander Ovechkin runs guys, and the league won’t do anything. Michael Ryder hits a guy into the boards on Saturday (see the video here), and is free to play on Sunday.
And this isn’t Cooke’s first suspension. In November, in almost an exact same hit to the Savard one, Cooke elbowed Anton Anisimov in the head (see that video here). He got two games for that one. A year ago, he hit Scott Walker in the head, and was suspended for two games.
So obviously, Cooke isn’t learning a thing. He did the same thing to Savard that he has done to other hockey players.
But here’s the thing. If Cooke had been suspended for 10 games for his elbow on Anisimov (which wasn’t even his first career suspension), do you honestly think he would have tried the same thing against Savard? Not a chance.
Honestly, this is one of the main reasons I have stopped paying to go to hockey games. I go to them if I get free tickets, but I haven’t paid to see a game in about 10 years. I made that vow after Kyle MacLaren hit Richard Zednik in the head during the playoffs about a decade ago, and it still stands. And it’s because of garbage like this.
If the league won’t the players protect their teammates, then the league needs to do it. No more pussyfooting around. Either come out and say you care about the health of the athletes and there will be no more of this (to be followed by a 15-game suspension of Cooke), or continue to do nothing until a player gets paralyzed.