5 Ways NHL Players Can Bring Back a Little “RESPECT” To the Game

March 12th, 2011 4 Comments

There has been a lot of chatter both online and in the fish wrap in regards to NHL players and the lack of respect between them these days.

Gone are the days when NHL players would think twice about taking liberties with their opponent, giving way to dangerous hits and a general lack of respect for player safety.

With all this in mind, let’s take a look a five ways the NHL and its players can bring back a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T to the game of hockey and its players

Reduce Equipment:

On the surface, reducing the equipment NHL players wear looks to be a curious way to bring back some respect.

Today’s NHL player is equipped with shoulder, elbow and shin pads that could be suitable for a medieval warrior.

Recent evolutions in materials and a lack of size restriction allow players to arm themselves with huge pieces of indestructible plastics and Kevlar that could withstand a tsunami.

Inevitably, NHL players feel they are indestructible, allowing them to hit anything that moves with full force without regard for themselves or their opponent.

The result of this is an increase in serious injury to the player or players being hit, especially those that do not see it coming—aka the blindside hits.

If the NHL chose to revert to actual “padding” as opposed to manufactured plastics, the NHL would be a better place and, in my opinion, would see a great reduction in serious injuries.

Enforce the Rulebook:

Let’s face it—as much as there is a lack of respect and accountability between NHL players, two of the biggest offenders are the NHL and the NHLPA.

The NHL and its referees have a rulebook that they are supposed to enforce. Trouble is the NHL, its referees and the NHLPA are all guilty of either not enforcing the rules or fighting to loosen the shoestrings.

Rules are great—but unless they are enforced consistently, you will have NHL players taking advantage of the “system.”

Increase Fines:

The average NHL salary is around $2 million. When an offending player is fined $10,000, it’s like most of us having to cough up $10—which does little to sway anyone from perpetuating dangerous, if not illegal, behavior.

Based on an 82-game season, the average player earns $24,390 per game. While we all know that many suspensions require the player to forfeit his salary during the length of the suspension, an increase in fines may help sway players to walk the line more honestly. 

Many of the “goons” in the NHL are responsible for the majority of the most devastating injuries. Coincidentally, most of the “goons” in the NHL happen to make a salary below the NHL average.

Why not scrap the percentages in favor of larger set fines?

What we’d be left with would be players that thought twice before they engaged in dangerous behavior and perhaps a few players that would be left with little in the bank at the end of the season.

The bottom line is this: The more you hit an NHL player in the pocketbook, the more likely they are to learn from their indiscretions.

Abolish Fighting:

That’s right, I said it; who needs fighting these days?

Sure, the NHL will never completely abolish fighting—and I am not suggesting that they should completely abolish this behavior. What the NHL would benefit from is making fighting more difficult for NHL players to engage in.

Reactionary fights, while sometimes tough to decipher, are good for the game. The ones we all hate are the “staged” fight where two players seemingly drop the gloves for no reason at all, subjecting themselves to unnecessary injury and trauma.

Punishing the offending participants with suspensions would be a step in the right direction and it would encourage players to take care of their own battles.

If you suspended players for fighting you would see the participants being a lot pickier about when and where they fought, to the point that they may elect to pass on the staged variety.

I am all for fighting; what I am tired of seeing are the staged fights and the dirty players having their battles fought by goons. Make players accountable for their own actions by discouraging goon fights.

You want to be an idiot out on the ice, no worries. Good luck defending your actions; the goon can’t do it every time or he will be suspended and/or broke!

It says here if a “shift disturber” has to fight his own battles he is less likely to be out on the ice chirping and slashing and taking liberties at will.

The kid on the playground that is best friends with the school bully often has the biggest mouth. But take the bully away and he often has nothing to say, right?

Continued Education:

The NHL prides itself on having the best concussion research on the planet. Unfortunately, the NHL often comes up short with regards to offering the proper/best equipment options that would help ensure player safety.

It’s not OK to merely understand an injury; it’s high time the NHL made certain pieces of equipment mandatory because they reduce injury and offer the greatest protection from errant sticks and punishing hits.

Don’t wait for another player’s eyesight to be lost; don’t wait for another concussion to happen; don’t wait for a player to be killed on the ice.

Take a hold of the issues, demand change and make things like mouth guards, visors and the M11 helmet mandatory for all NHL players.

I made this point in an earlier article: The first testicular guard or “cup” was used in hockey in 1874. The first helmet was used in 1974. It took 100 years for the NHL and its players to realize that the brain was also important!

Let’s not allow our players to go another 100 years before they are making the right decisions with regards to equipment use. Make it mandatory.

There is no room for egos and tradition—the game has changed and so should the equipment.

Until next time,

Peace!

4 Comments

  1. LAKing says:

    Wow…have you ever watched a Hockey game?
    This sport isn’t about “respect”. You can’t compare hockey to football. Have you ever seen the hockey gear? They can’t be weighed down like football players because THEY’RE SKATING ON ICE!

    The refs and teams do follow the rule book. Yes there are crap calls and fights but that happens. Refs are taught when to let players fight and when not to. They’re not going to just jump in between two or more guys that was over 200 lbs of pure muscle and get the crap beat out of them.

    Never compare hockey to any other sport because face it, no sport is like hockey when it comes to contact. Basketball you get a foul every time you touch someone. Football all you can do is tackle the guy bascially and that’s it (which I’ve seen worse injuries from football then hockey). Baseball, none except when someones sliding into the base.

    The times there are bad injuires to hockey, are 99% never on purpose. The Chara hit, it’s happened before and those players are fine. These guys only check when the person has the puck, if they dont, usually the get put in the sin bin.

    Bottom line. Don’t talk about hockey if you don’t know anything about it.

  2. JCMurphy says:

    Some good points here but personally I’d rather see the instigator rule dropped. The dirty player is held accountable on the spot. There is a code among the guys who do the fighting. The dirty player should be the one labeled as the goon.

    Suspensions without pay are a great idea if the league would make them hurt: Imagine if Bertuzzi were out until Steve Moore returned to the league?

    Enjoyed your article. Looking forward to the next. Nice job.

  3. BobbyBolivia says:

    The article is called 5 ways NHL PLAYERS can bring respect to the game and it’s options that are all changed by management and the league. Fines won’t do anything. What the NHL needs is to figure out what they are suspending and sticking with it. They suspend the result more than the act and when they don’t, well look at Chara and how that was viewed. The NHL won’t get any more respect throwing out fighting. It’s part of the game and always will be. It’s part of being a hockey player. If you’re not a fighter? Don’t fight. There is no rule that says you have to fight in the NHL. Just don’t go asking for trouble on the ice *cough* Matt Cooke. I do however think you’re referencing old equipment in thinking that it needs to be “padded” the equipment I wear and see out there is covered and padded to an extent. The reason for the plastics is protection in itself. Remember there is a little black puck being shot at 100 miles an hour and wood/fiber glass sticks being used on the ice. You think it’s what Chara wears on his shoulders that makes him invincible? It’s the fact these guys are bigger than the game has ever seen and faster too. As to my original comment, This is something the league just has to police better.

  4. MarkRitter says:

    Well, Bobby—it appears as if the NHL is looking at increasing fines, reducing equipment size and looking into the materials they are made from. I’d say they are on the right track…

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