Time for the NHL to harshly penalize players that hit opponents in the head

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sport

Lately, there's been a rash of nasty, dirty hits to the head. The NHL's department of Player Safety has responded properly by handing out some lengthy suspensions, but it doesn't seem like the players are getting the message.

Good Afternoon Wilderness... Today I am going to take a look at questionable checks. More specifically, hits to the head that violate the NHL's Rule 48. Lately, there's been a rash of nasty, dirty hits to the head. The NHL's department of Player Safety has responded properly by handing out some lengthy suspensions, but it doesn't seem like the players are getting the message.

Yesterday in the Globe and Mail, Anaheim Ducks forward Teemu Selanne was quoted in the article as saying it's time to make the suspensions for hits to the head hurt.

Anaheim Ducks winger Teemu Selanne, the NHL's elder statesman at 43 and perhaps the most widely respected player in today's game, said in Montreal the suspensions handed out to the likes of Kaleta are inadequate.

"I don't think they're enough," Selanne told reporters. "The next night, the same thing happens."

Surprisingly, Selanne added players have been talking about themselves about the need for suspensions to move to "a big one so guys can't afford to do that," as well as the possibility of the teams, coaches and even owners being fined for such transgressions.

"The bottom line is, there's no option - we've got to do it."

I agree we have to do something before someone is maimed or killed on the ice. There's hard nosed hockey and then there is thuggery. These are some of the questionable and dirty hits that have taken place on the ice in just the last week. Some of these are ugly incidents.

This past Wednesday, during a game between the Boston Bruins and the Buffalo Sabres, goon John Scott elbows Boston Bruins forward Loui Eriksson with one of the dirtiest checks I have seen this season. The hit left Erikson woozy and the Bruins forward had to be helped off the ice by his teammates.

There’s no way that you can excuse this hit. I am being serious here, Scott can claim that he’s not a dirty player or that he’s not out there to hurt people, but this is a guy that can barely skate, he out there just to beat people up and dish out checks. I would like to see the NHL make a stand in this case, a 10-15 game suspension would be a good start. Currently, Scott has been suspended indefinitely by the NHL pending an in-person hearing.

John Scott's teammate Patrick Kaleta is already serving a 10-game suspension for another dirty hit to the head of Columbus Blue Jacket defenseman Jack Johnson.

Dallas Stars forward Ryan Garbutt was suspended 5-games by the National Hockey League for this hit on Anaheim Ducks forward Dustin Penner.

I am not a dove by any stretch of the imagination, I love hardnosed hockey and I am all for playing hockey on the edge as long as the players don’t go over that edge. I love a good fight; I like the staged fights, because I think they rally the troops. I do not like bush league hockey. I also think that some of these "Rats" that are running around committing atrocious, random acts of violence cannot be excused and must be dealt with in a swift and harsh way. Make it hurt until they realize that they are the ones that have to change.

I think that Wild forward Matt Cooke is a perfect example of a player that had a storied past, but has gotten the message and changed the way he plays the game, for the better. Cooke has been suspended roughly 27 games by the NHL, but in the last two seasons has cleaned up his game immensely. Through 11 games this season, the former public enemy number one, has taken a grand total of six minutes in penalties, or three minor penalties. Cooke even offered to help Patrick Kaleta change the way he plays the game.

These were just a few of the hits that have happened over the course of the past week, the season is 1/8 over and I have a feeling the Department of Player Safety is just getting started. Thoughts?

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