Every time an NHL player gets suspended for a questionable hit from behind, supporters of the banished player love to put the blame on the puck carrier instead. What nonsense.
How much brain power does it take to abide by a simple approach that says “if you can see the numbers on the back of his sweater, don’t hit him?”
The additional complaint suggesting the puck carrier “turned into the hit” at the last second, is also a phony one. Obviously, a puck carrier, close to the boards, under heavy checking pressure from an opponent, is going to turn left or right at some point. There are no other options. No one should be surprised when it happens.
It’s just a matter of time before an NHL player’s career comes to an end because of a nasty hit from behind. Look no further than Toronto’s just-suspended Roman Polak. This guy is a beast. He has immense upper body strength and ridiculous power. On multiple occasions over his career, he has crossed the line, and sent an unsuspecting opponent hurling face first into the boards. Apparently, he’s a slow learner.
While player safety is the primary reason for maintaining a zero-tolerance policy, a positive by-product of a total ban on hits from behind would be increased scoring chances in the offensive zone. The longer a skilled player is allowed to twist and turn with the puck, the more likely some kind of exit-pass pays off. As it stands now, the NHL is nothing more than endless cycling plays, always brought to a quick end, by some wild-eyed defender racing at a puck carrier at top speed and slamming him into the glass. Can you say monotonous?