Thursday, March 11, 2010

3-11-10: The Savard Hit

I didn't watch Sunday's game against the Penguins, but did get a chance to see the replay of the Cooke hit on Savard. In the time since, it has been decided, by the NHL, that the hit was not worthy of a suspension, but a rule has been proposed by the General Managers to ban such hits in the future.

As a Bruins fan, I hate to see a star player get hurt. I want nothing more than to see retribution for the hit. At the same time, I am a fan of the sport. What Cooke did may look dirty, but it was still legal. Plenty of injuries occur from perfectly legal body checks. Scott Stevens made a career of big, legal hits. As a young player, I was told by a coach at hockey camp: "You want to hit 'em with the shoulder. It's bigger than the elbow. It will do more damage, and it's legal."

The issue becomes whether Cooke intended to injure Savard, and the violence of the hit. To me, those two points are irrelevant. If the contact is within the rules, Cooke could have screamed "Look at me, I just took his fucking head off!" and can't be assessed a penalty for the hit itself (he'd be liable for Unsportsmanlinke, perhaps). He hit him with his shoulder. No elbow. No charge. Savard had just released the puck. It was simply a well timed hit from the blind side.

I don't know if I agree with the new rule. I've been hit pretty hard, especially in college hockey. I can't remember which hits were from my blind side and which were directly in front of me, but my guess would be more would be from the blind side, otherwise I may have likely avoided more hits. Why would they ban those hits? So long as it doesn't violate the current rules, which are numerous (hit from behind, charging, elbowing, high sticking, cross checking, etc.), it should be legal. It is nice to see the GM's looking out for the players, but I think that could be based on the viewpoint of players as investments. Savard is a star player. Do you think this incident would have drawn nearly the same attention if it had been a fourth line winger getting hit? Who knows.

Anyway, I hope for a speedy and full recovery for Savard, and I hope Cooke gets what is coming to him the next time the Bruins face him.

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