I understand emotions run high.
I played the game.
I get it.
But to hit someone dirty with your stick, elbow or from behind is unacceptable.
For the last several seasons, I’ve been very close to the QMJHL from a broadcasting and scouting perspective. I’ve witnessed dirty hit, after dirty play, after cheap shot. It has to stop. It’s ruining the game.
We have grown so accustom to it in the media or as spectators, we often shrug it off and say buzzwords like ‘concussion protocol’, ‘bell rung’, ‘quiet room’ or ‘we will have to monitor the situation to see if that player returns’.
Instead of watching the highlight reel, we dissect the video of the incident over and over again, in slow motion and debate how many games the player in question will get suspended for.
That’s not hockey.
To think that people argue with the league saying that suspensions handed down over the last few seasons are too severe.
Eric Chouinard, Director of Player Safety for the QMJHL and his staff have done a terrific job explaining and breaking down suspensions for the league. The league has taken a stance on this type of behaviour and in my opinion has handed down reasonable, accurate and appropriate suspensions.
The process is transparent and consistent. Nevertheless, we are still witnessing players cross the line.
Sure suspensions are down slightly over the past few seasons, but the lack of respect in the game of hockey today is taking its toll.
I realize the game is faster and the players are stronger, the bottom line, there is no mutual respect in the game and these types of hits and behaviours will continue to plague the game until that gap is reduced.
This crop of players like no other, have grown up in the “concussion era” they understand the consequences and what’s at stake, but yet they still deliver these types of hits or stick infractions.
There has to be a shift in culture or perhaps the unwritten hockey code. There have always been incidents in the game, but now it seems like they are more severe than ever before, due in large part to the lack of respect between players.
Don’t blame the referees. Don’t blame coaches. Don’t blame the league. Don’t blame the game. Blame the players.
There are different ways to show toughness, physicality and grit. How about being an honest player who hits clean and doesn’t take advantage of a player in a vulnerable position.
Players are aware of the rules especially blind side, checking from behind and checking to the head, but yet they are still ignored.
Players can’t even throw clean body checks anymore in the game without being tackled or confronted by their opponents and asked to fight.
Instead of looking for retribution after a clean hit and starting a fight, play hard between the whistles, take the players number and next time go hit them hard and clean.
A shift in mutual respect between players isn’t going to affect the outcome of the game it may even enhance it and take it to an entirely different level.
I’m old school and believe the game should be played with passion, heart, determination, grit and physicality.
Unfortunately, when players in today’s game cross the line, it’s not by accident. They know what they are doing, they just don’t respect their opposition and in turn the game.
I understand emotions run high. I played the game. I get it. But, I guess I don’t understand it anymore.