No Head-Shot Ban; Mario’s Proposal

NHL GM’s do not want an outright ban on head shots (blindside hits to the head are already outlawed). They do, however, want to see stricter enforcement of penalties for charging and boarding in an effort to improve overall safety and curb concussions. According to the Post-Gazette, the Penguins supported a ban on all hits to the head. GMs also want longer suspensions for illegal hits and repeat offenders.

I’m OK with this, mainly because teams are encouraging more punishment for bad hits. Not all head shots are created equal. Incidental contact does happen. But those hits that do fall on the wrong side of the rule book will be subject to harsher reprimand from the league. Repeat offenders also deserve harsher penalties. Hopefully this leads to just that.

Mario Lemieux, meanwhile, wants teams fined when its players are suspended. Lemieux outlined his plan in a letter to Commissioner Gary Bettman. According to his proposal, fines would be based on the length of the suspension. For example, a 1-2 game suspension would equal a $50,000 fine; more than 15 games would cost an organization $1 million. Under a system like this, teams would be held directly responsible for the actions of its players.

I have no problem with this scenario. There’s a risk-reward when you employ a player like Matt Cooke or Trevor Gillies. Teams know this. Under Mario’s plan, they would be forced to deal with the consequences of those players’ actions.

NOTES: Sidney Crosby was scheduled to skate again today, meaning he had no ill effects from yesterday’s workout. Great news considering the alternative.

Alex Kovalev returns to Ottawa for the first time since being traded to Pittsburgh. Let’s hope Kovalev plays as if he has something to prove tonight.

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