The NHL has an epidemic on their hands, or at least they will tell you they do. Despite cracking down on illegal hits, we have still seen a high amount of illegal hits taking place, leading to several suspensions this season already.
One thing they are seriously trying to cut down on is hitting players, from behind, into the boards, and rightfully so. It is a dangerous play and could lead to severe injuries.
Through safety videos, the league has stressed the importance of not hitting a player near the boards when their numbers are facing you. Doing so will result in a penalty, and a potential suspension despite the severity of the hit.
But if the true meaning of the crackdown is to prevent these plays, why does the league wait for the worst-case scenario to happen before action is taken? Shouldn’t an obvious, blatant hit from behind near the boards draw attention from the league office?
If that is the case, the NHL should suspend Boston Bruins’ Shawn Thornton for a game to show that they are serious about cracking down on hits.
This may sound like a fan with sour grapes, but as a fan who loves this and doesn’t want to see any player, no matter what they play for, get injured and not be able to live their life the way they want, let alone play the sport they love, is the last I want to watch happen.
Pittsburgh Penguins’ Tanner Glass had his back turned completely along the boards for an extended period of time, and Thornton took several strides towards Glass before hitting him. Right there is knowledge of the player being in a vulnerable position and the player still carried through with the hit. It’s not like in other situations where the player turned his back at the last second and put himself in a bad position to get hit.
There was no injury on the on the play, and it was only called a two-minute boarding penalty, so in all likelihood, this will be passed over completely by the league. But if they finally decide to try and prevent some injuries as oppose to punish for injuries, this is a good launching point.
Anthony Murpy is a contributing writer for RantSports.com. He can be reached by email firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @AMurphyTFC.