There's been a lot of chatter around recently about late hits, borderline late hits, retribution, and how Gary Bettman killed the NHL with the instigator rule. First of all, here is a debunk to myth number one. The NHL Board of Governors has the power to revoke the instigator rule at anytime. The unpopular rule was initiated before Gary Bettman even took office as NHL commissioner on February 1st, 1993, so it does not belong to this commissioner. Not that Gary or his minions have done anything to stop or slow down the inexcusable, thuggery of the goonish few in the league. Last year Erik Cole got a broken neck while being boarded and the suspension was 3 days. Last week Tomas Kaberle got a concussion on a late hit to the head which might put him out for the rest of the season and the suspension was also 3 days. Do you see a pattern here? I could go on and on with examples of bad hits, some legal, some not with no suspensions at all. It happens pretty regularly. In my opinion, I don't think retribution by other goons, (Lindy's Law), will stop or prevent the late hits. I don't even think reversing the instigator rule will change much of anything. I think that this boils down to one thing...respect, or lack of it.
Some players seem to care less if they end the career of another by going for the head of an unsuspecting player. If that player happens to be a skilled star, all the better! They just skate around looking for the opportunity. If I could ever meet with the commissioner I would love to ask him a couple of questions. First off, why is it illegal to go after another player's knees, but it's perfectly legal to go after that same player's head? (other than using an elbow)? While knee on knee hits are very dangerous and can be potentially career ending, aren't head injuries just as dangerous, if not more so? How can it make any sense for the league to have a rule to prevent against knee injuries, but not to care about intentional head hunting? Hockey players have never been known to be quick thinkers, but in this day and age of revenue sharing maybe these headhunting goons should consider the financial ramifications to the league and to their own pockets if they were to end the career of say, a Sidney Crosby or Jordan Staal by delivering a late, cheap shot to the head? Perhaps the league should consider the same financial impact? Just something to think about on a Friday morning.
Good news for Caniacs! Erik Cole has been officially taken off the injured reserve and has been cleared to play! He has skated with the team for the last 2 practices and I think we will see him tonight. Also, Ray Whitney was back on the ice and reportedly looked fine. He should also play. Bret Hedican has still not returned and is doubtful. The Canes have had 2 days of rest and 2 days to work on the ailing power play which has only scored 1 time out of the past 35 chances. The Washington Capitals have just won 1 game out of their past 11. Brent Johnson should be in goal. I would expect Cam Ward back between the pipes for the Canes. The Canes need to get back to winning, but will they be rusty or rested? This is a perfect opportunity for them. Go Canes!