Doctors drop gloves on NHL violence -

Doctors drop gloves on NHL violence

Physicians say professional hockey is too accepting of hits


CALGARY – Canada’s physicians have dropped the gloves with NHL owners saying the league is too accepting of hockey violence.

Two-thirds of delegates at a Canadian Medical Association meeting in Calgary Wednesday voted to “condemn the complacency of the NHL in regards to violence in hockey.”

The motion was brought forward by Dr. Pierre Harvey, a physician from Riviere-du-Loup, Que.

He said he was motivated by a devastating 2011 hit on Montreal Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty that sent the player to hospital with a concussion and a fractured neck.

“I wanted my motion to be specific to the NHL because that’s where it happens,” said Harvey.

“If the NHL stops doing that or makes a significant move to reduce those concussion rates, I’m sure the whole hockey industry and minor league hockey will follow. We deplore it because it has a significant impact on our players health and those players are major role models for teenagers and kids,” he said.

“They learn that’s the way we play hockey and I think it’s not acceptable to hit the head of someone.”

Harvey acknowledges that hockey is a rough game, but said more can be done to reduce blows to the head and hits from behind.

Boston Bruins defenceman Zdeno Chara was not suspended for the hit that sent Pacioretty head-first into the glass between the benches.

The league ruled the hit a “hockey play” and said if found no evidence that Chara delivered the check in any manner that could be deemed dangerous.

“When I saw that picture I thought, well, he could have been dead. He was unconscious on the ice and I thought well naturally they will punish this guy,” Harvey said, adding that Chara should have been suspended for 50 to 80 games.

“The owners have a financial interest in tolerating and promoting violence and we need to be a counterweight,” he said.

The league changed its rules in the 2010-11 season to outlaw bodychecks aimed at the head and checking from a player’s blind side.

But research released last month suggested the rule changes, which were designed to cut down on the number of concussions, haven’t made a difference.

The data showed that there was no statistical significance in the incidence of concussions in the NHL in the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons compared to the 2009-10 season.

The analysis also showed that the type of hits outlawed by the NHL rule weren’t actually the major cause of concussions.

The incoming president of the Canadian Medical Association acknowledges it’s a thorny issue.

“Any time you touch hockey in Canada you better watch every word you say because you’re going to get a lot of people really upset,” said Dr. Louis Francescutti.

“I love hockey. I’ve got a hockey rink in my backyard, but there are certain rules when you get on the Francescutti rink and one of them is you don’t hit the other opponent. The kids seem to have a lot more fun playing hockey as opposed to: can the big guy cream the little guy against the boards.”

It’s not the first time the medical association has taken a stand against a popular sport.

Delegates in 2010 voted in favour of a ban on mixed martial arts prize fighting matches. They called the sport “savage and brutal” with the aim to completely disable an opponent.

The association took a similar stand on boxing more than a decade ago.

The doctors also passed a motion calling on provinces to restrict the sale of energy drinks to children and adolescents, suggesting drinks like “Red Bull” should be subject to the same drinking age as alcohol.


Doctors drop gloves on NHL violence

  1. Hockey should be about speed & skill. Fighting is traditional but needless. Goons, who lack NHL skills, are useless.

  2. Medical practitioners have a lot of clout in this country, They should take this issue more seriously and FORCE things to change. I know they can if they REALLY want to. I’d love to start watching hockey again. I remember getting a penalty when I was a teen simply because my stick slipped and grazed a player’s helmet. I apologized since it wasn’t intentional and I didn’t get mad about it – neither did he. Hockey was so much fun back then. I sometimes played with guys who were twice my size and 5-6 years older and I only got hurt once. Of course being so much smaller I could check these beasts as much as I wanted because they didn’t even notice it. :-)

    Please, let’s bring back our game of skill and leave the nonsense to the Ultimate Fighting rings.

  3. It’s almost as if the doctors are convinced there is more fighting in the game now than there used to be. In fact, there is much less than in the 70s and 80s. Most of the concussions come from collisions, not fighting. Many of those are accidental collisions. Someone forgot to tell the doctors.
    There are things the NHL could do. Go back to the old rules that allow the defensemen to take the player out at the blueline after the dump-in is one thing. It would reduce the speed at which the forwards enter the offensive zone and cut down on high speed collisions behind the net when the other D-man goes to retreive the puck. Defensemen are allowed to do this under international rules, but in the NHL it is called interference. Can anyone say the Olympics were boring?