On head shots


It feels like every season I find myself writing a post scorning the dangerous play of a handful of NHL athletes, and this past week’s action by Flyers’ defenseman Radko Gudas. Gudas took liberties with a hit on Senators’ forward Mika Zibanejad, going for a clear head shot while playing the puck(???) last Tuesday:

The fun part of situations like this comes when you read people defending the actions of the Flyers’ “defenseman,” loosely quoted because between this year and last with Tampa, I can’t remember a positive hockey-related thing he has done. Or a positive thing at all, but I digress. Sure, it wasn’t charging or interference because Zibanejad had just passed the puck. However, instead of tracking the puck, Gudas feels the urge to introduce Zibanejad’s face to his forearm. Maybe he was feeling amicable, who knows.

Stephanie did a great job of slowing down the gif posted above to show three major points of conversation: 1) Gudas zeroed in and focused on hitting Zibanejad, instead of playing the puck, 2) Gudas drove up with his elbow, and 3) Zibanejad’s head was the principal point of contact. I’m not a ref, and I’m not too familiar with medicine, but i’m 99% sure that a driving elbow to the head is a key ingredient in a concussion. You know, those things that the league is trying to minimize, the reason that the Department of Player Safety exists. Luckily for Mika, it seems that he didn’t suffer a concussion and didn’t miss much time. The DoPS also finally suspended Gudas. Three games isn’t enough, but it’s better than what he got for concussing Victor Stalberg earlier in the year. Watch the hit from October 24 here:

Was this hit better or worse than the hit on Zibanejad? According to the DoPS, much better, since he didn’t even have a hearing for concussing Stalberg.

Now, if we’re looking to play the blame game, of course a lot of it comes with the player. However, when the punishment is inconsistent, and the on-ice officiating is downright laughable, are we really doing enough to avoid injuries? We see what concussions do to the brain after time, and the league is even involved in technological advancements in helping downplay them, but to suspend an average-at-best player whose main job is to bully a few games, who are we kidding? Do we need more Derek Boogaards, whose job was to fight and scramble his brains, to pass away before we make a change?

The shift in the game to skilled players rather than goons is certainly in place. Now we can just hope that DoPS has harsher suspensions for aggressive head shots that end not only seasons, but careers and lives as well.

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  • Gudas is a complete moron like Matt Cooke & he’s seriously going to injure someone badly one of these days. The NHL is complicit because their Dept. Of Player Safety is a complete and utter joke. The NHL “pretends” they care abt the welfare of their players while allowing Gudas to deliver head shots to Stalberg & Zbinejad etc. What is even more gauling is the incompetent NHL refs failure to even penalize these incidents.

    • Hey Pauly, Lets hope his name and number have been registered in the Ranger list of paybacks. I hope Mcllrath and Glass get a chance to introduce themselves to Gudas. 🙂

  • pussification of hockey too….go watch figure skaters..

    Hockey is a sport that has hits, fighting as well as brilliant plays, goal tending and such. Enough of this shit demonizing contact. Don’t like it go watch soccer

    • ^kind of a bit extreme on the OP. We all like contact, its one of the main ingredients of the sport we all love. I think her issue is with that of the illegal variety– especially when conducted by repeat offenders — which certainly has some merit.

      Whether you agree or not, your comment doesn’t really do much to foster or promote a useful discussion.

    • Protecting players from head injuries isn’t about pussification. It’s about preserving quality of life after hockey and for the league potentially protecting itself from an avalanche of lawsuits and payouts.

      It’s a real issue that the NFL is dealing with to an overwhelming degree. The NHL would do well to not repeat the same mistakes, for the betterment of the players that make the league its money and to protect itself financially and for the sake of its reputation.

  • Nah, this is how the BS starts with propaganda….look at where we are today because of liberal rhetoric. This is the game…like or don’t if you try and change it then expect push back from people who like what the game is or even better was. The passion from this game is eroding because of the mercenary mentality of players. Soft is not good

    • Did you feel the same way when goalie masks were introduced? What about helmets? Sports progress, they evolve to better protect their players. (Attempting) to crack down on head shots is just the next step in this continuing process.

      The sport will always be physical – we like it that way – but there’s no gain to the sport with head shots. No one wins.

      • You are comparing apples to oranges. Player safety is a good thing but to take out fighting or hitting is a different tactic.
        When I played sports which I did, hockey and football it was injuries such as knees, broken bones and such. I knew what I was getting into and went ahead and played. Injuries will happen in sports to anyone and everyone who plays. To keep a player safe in the context of the game I am good to go, but to change the game fuck that

        • Leather

          More times than not we are on the same page, and are of the same mind set, but I have to voice my disagreement on this one.

          Scumbags like a Matt Cooke, are dirty bastards, and if we take the law into our own hands, well, you get 2 for instigating, 5 for fighting, and 10 for a misconduct.

          Now if the NHL would let guys respond without fear of suspensions, well we wouldn’t have this problem in the first place.

          Any deliberate head shot should get the player involved an automatic 10 games the first time, 20 the second, 40 the third time, you’ll see how quickly this problem solves itself. No, the NHL doesn’t consider this to be an issue, or it would implement this policy !!!!!!!

          • Matt Cooke and Sean Avery are the grandfathers of today’s hockey that has now morphed into the Gallagher’s and Marchand’s of today. In the old days the Eddie Johnstone’s had to fight when they did this. Times have changed now those guys are protected from frontier law

          • I totally agree with those suspension parameters Walt but these days, illegal hits receive no penalty & no suspension. When the game is at it’s best it’s fast & physical, but the league encourages head shots by using a stupid instigator penalty. Nothing happened to Belesky except that McIlrath pounded the shit out of him which was alright with me. I guess it’s frontier justice since the league does nothing abt it. It took abt 6 infractions for Cooke to get 10 games. Ridiculous.

          • Agree with everything stated, hence the last part of my post that if the NHL wanted to correct this problem, they would start suspending the clowns at the rate suggested !!!!!!!!!!!

            I, like both you, and Leather are old school, and love the physical aspect of the game, but it has got to be clean, or some poor SOB can get killed by a stick ………….Buttman, do your job Clarabell !!!!!!!!

  • you want to protect…so take out any and all contact….Is that then hockey? I joined the Marines knowing what it was, and combat I also saw. Should we go give stress cards now to our military members because war is gross or do we train them to fight?
    Hockey being policed by referees was the biggest mistake they ever made. Athletes will cheat or use rules to win. But when players take matters into their hands then it becomes a tad more difficult to do so. Mcilrath and Belesky is a clear point of that. Rangers should never have been down a man…either Belesky gets the extra or a 5 minute major to both,

  • Gudas is obviously a dirty player and clearly is purposely targeting the head on both hits shown. He should have been suspended for 5 games for the hit on Stalberg and 10 for his most recent display of head hunting on Zibanejab. No place in the NHL for players like him.

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