The General Managers of every NHL team met for the past three days in Boca Raton, FL to discuss the state of the game. Central to their annual discussions was the recent run of shots to the head, most notably the shot that Pittsburgh’s Matt Cooke put on Boston’s Marc Savard that likely ended Savard’s season. After three days of deliberations, the group has agreed to present a motion to the NHLPA’s Competition Committee for their review.
The following language was agreed to unanimously by the group:
“A lateral, back pressure or blindside hit to an opponent where the head is targeted and or the principal point of contact is not permitted. A violation of the above will result in a minor or major penalty and shall be reviewed for possible supplemental discipline.”
Cooke’s cheap shot, seen below, is a clear-cut example of the type of play this rule change recommendation would make a penalty-drawing offense, if not worse.
Earlier this year, the Blackhawks had a scare when Willie Mitchell of the Vancouver Canucks left the penalty box and caught Captain Jonathan Toews with a high hit. Clearly, the game is concerned that their younger players are at risk when unnecessary violence takes place on the ice, and is taking steps to avoid these horrific injuries.
What made the presentation of this recommendation strange was the news that came later from the league office. NHL senior vice president of hockey operations Colin Campbell informed the Pittsburgh Penguins that Cooke would not face any league penalty, including any suspension, for his hit on Savard. While the recommended rule change won’t take effect until next season, Campbell noted that suspending Cooke would not be consistent with other, similar issues the league has dealt with this year.