Posted: 13 March 2011 at 9:37pm | IP Logged
But intent should be almost irrelevant, given the result. The NHL and the players association (are you listening Donald Fehr?) have to find a way that players entering dangerous situations are much more aware of what they're doing, and how to pull up from it. That comes from conditioning. And the only Pavlovian processes NHLers respond to always involve penalties, fines and suspensions, in ascending order.
Consider something as simple as firing the puck over the boards in your own end: once considered a "hockey play." There are still a few such penalized clears but not like when the rule first came in. Teams made it a teachable skill not to loft it over the glass, because the resultant power plays were killing them.
So, too, that Chara-type hit has to be suspended out of the game.
But Murphy couldn't do that in this case, given what has and hasn't merited long suspensions this year and given how ridiculously forgiving the new head-contact rules are.
So, this off-season, a new, much more costly regimen of suspensions and fines has to be introduced, none of them dependent upon previous rulings. They set the bar too low.
The league did that with the interference and offside rules after the lockout, and they should be doing it in time for next season with careless hits along an increasingly dangerous part of the ice.