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Proposed blindside hit ban goes through

Posted By DJ Bean On June 25, 2010 @ 2:46 pm In General | No Comments

Anyone upset with the way the whole Marc Savard/Matt Cooke/Colin Campbell situation was handled last season can rest easy, as the NHL Board of Governors approved a ban on blindside blows to the head. Players who commit lateral blindside hits, such as Cooke’s March 7 hit on Savard, now can be given a five-minute major and a game misconduct. If a player racks up two game misconducts for blindside hits to the head, he will automatically be suspended for the next game.

The proposed rule change had been drawn up last week by the NHL’s competition committee. Campbell, the senior vice president and director of hockey operations, fell under heavy criticism in March when he decreed that Cooke had technically not done anything on the hit of Savard to warrant a suspension. Later that month, the general managers called for a revised rule, which now has been passed.

The actual language of the rule outlaws “lateral or blindside hits to an opponent where the head is targeted and/or the principle point of contact.”

Though stricter punishment is now in place, Bruins president Cam Neely is still hesitant to treat the problem as being solved.

“The one concern that I have is that it’s still going to be a tough rule to call,” Neely told WEEI.com’s Graig Woodburn on Thursday. “I don’t know if you’re going to get everyone happy. That’s the problem.”

Neely, whose playing career was cut short due to injury, can appreciate that though players may still be at risk, the initiative taken to cut down on risk is a step in the right direction.

“I think it’s going to be tough for the referee in that split second to really judge the call. Like all new rules, there’s going to be some questions,” he said. “At least there is an attempt to get [hits to the head] out of the game.”


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