Because if they really wanted to get rid of head shots, it would be this simple. Tell Brendan Shanahan that all shoulders, elbows, forearms to the head should result in suspensions, and not these little pansy one- or two-game suspensions.
That when a clown like Joffrey Lupul does what he does, that’s five or eight or 10 games. Not two. And when Rick Nash does what he did, that’s a bunch of games, too. And the same for Chris Neil against Brian Boyle, or Milan Lucic on Nash.
But the league has tied Shanahan’s hands with this silly, ridiculous edict that a head shot is only one in which the head is the initial point of contact. So you can ride up a player’s shoulder or back or chest, then get a free shot at his head, right Alex Ovechkin? No probem. No suspension. No discipline. Nash’s point of contact on Tomas Kopecky Thursday night was his upper back or shoulders. Then he drilled Kopecky in the back of the head.
Sorry, to me that’s a suspension if you really are the department of player safety, if you really are more concerned about player who was attacked rather than the player who did the attacking, if you really are aware of the concussion epidemic in the sport.
And from what I understand, the league doesn’t want Shanahan handing out long suspensions.
To me, if you’re going to hire a guy like Shanahan, who was a non-nonsense player, and who after retiring came to the league with all these ideas for improving the game, if you’re going to tell him to head up the department of player safety, then you can’t neuter him with all these guidelines.
I’d be willing to bet that if Shanahan had free reign, and if the edict was to rid the game of head shots, well, he’d find a way to get it done.
But the way this whole thing is drawn up now, with Shanahan only able to punish the most ghastly offenses, and even then, only for a game or two at a time, he has no chance of getting rid of head shots. None.
The league, you can conclude, has no desire to do so. And never will.
The NHL deserves the concussion epidemic it has. It’s sad.