A broken hand and we have a problem with fighting.
Connor McDavid looks like he is going to be the next player to change the game at the NHL level. He looks like he is going to be taking a 6 week rest due to a broken metacarpal in his hand.
To be honest it 'only' is a broken hand, this could have happened from a puck hitting his hand blocking a shot, it could have also happened from one of the many slashes he deals with that supposedly tipped McDavid over the edge to fight.
We all know at the NHL level the roster spot of the 'pure enforcer' is starting to disappear. This is due to the need for 18 players on the ice who can handle a puck without it being handled like a grenade, and the need for your 4th line to handle 10 minutes a game. The reduction in fighting has come from a transition in the needs of the coach in game, not from any fan outrage or ex-player cause.
Fighting will always be a part of the NHL, as will big, jaw rattling hits, the game is too fast to avoid them, not that we want to, the sport is built around speed and physicality, it is why we love it.
If the NHL has in fact improved their protocols for head/brain injuries and players are being honest with the team doctors, I do not think fighting is going to be the hill the NHL's concussion fight will die on.
It is going to be the illegal hits to the head. As I stated before the 'heavy weights' are leaving the game because of a behavioral change from the coaching staff. Teams cannot afford to carry a roster spot for a player only hitting the ice for 5 minutes a game, the game requirements have changed what kind of player sets the physical tone of a team.
The Duck's physical presence on the ice is not from any enforcer, it comes from the brutality of Getzlaf, Perry, and to a lesser extent Smith-Pelly, it is not their fists but their body that wears down teams. The Kings and Bruins have similar physical reputations about them without fighting very often.
The league is going to have to figure out how to change the on ice actions of the players to avoid head high contact. The changes made over the last 2 seasons have been a fantastic step in explaining why a player gets suspended and also providing some consistent reasoning suspension to suspension. However we have not seen a change in action on the ice.
You have all seen my suspension articles so far this year, the one consistent difference between the league and what we do here is the number of games. The league is too scared to suspend for an influential amount of time, and that is the problem, until the players start feeling an affect from their suspensions, there is not going to be a reduction in suspend-able actions.
So have a think about what it is about the NHL game you want to change, is it the physicality and fighting, or is it the dirty stick work and dirty hits that injure players?
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