The NHL feels it is doing what it can to prevent such injuries from happening, but Flyers senior vice president Bob Clarke believes the league's approach is all wrong.
In Clarke's opinion, suspensions and fines aren't the answer. Hockey once was policed by the players, and that was the only deterrent needed. But with the instigator rule, players are reluctant to retaliate for a questionable hit, so it's become the Wild West out there.
"These players now have no fear of what they do on the ice, because their opponents can't get even," Clarke said the other day. "(NHL vice president) Colin Campbell is the judge, jury and executioner. And it's not working. It's a total failure what Colie is trying to do.
"(Vancouver's) Raffi Torres gets suspended for four games (for injuring Edmonton's Jordan Eberle) and he comes back and the first thing he says is, 'I'm not changing my game.' So he goes out and tries to hurt (Chicago's Keith) Seabrook.
Are we making any progress toward controlling head hits?
"No, we're getting worse,'' Clarke said. "We now have players like (Buffalo's Tim) Connolly, who might have had two or three concussions before. He's trying to play hockey, he doesn't get hit hard, he goes in poorly but he's out again. Now we have a whole slew of players who are playing with one or two concussions.
"They're going to get hurt more and more. We don't even know the results of what's going on.''
The game changed after the 2004-05 lockout. The NHL cracked down on the players who make others accountable.
"They completely changed the game,'' Clarke said. "Players can't protect each other. They can't help each other get even. So nobody is afraid to hit. Every team has players who never hit because they knew that if I run you, someone is going to get even. But all that's been taken out. And now we have concussion after concussion after concussion.
Sounds like he wants to get rid of the instigator... I'm sure a lot of enforcers would really love this as they might be able to get a job again in the NHL. In a league where quite a few(if not most) teams have what is considered an enforcer on their roster, very few dress them on a regular occasion. Maybe getting rid of the instigator would cause them to dress an enforcer more often. Maybe it wouldn't change anything. Also, unless you change the rule to where some of the illegal hits are no longer illegal, the player that does the hit is probably getting kicked out of the game anyways, so that player isn't going to even have to fight anyone (unless they play another game later in the season). Yea I realize maybe they get their pay backs by going after one of your other players...
I am in the group that thinks an enforcer is kind of pointless... I mean, if Matt Cooke goes out and elbows someone in the head, what is Trevor Gillies going to do about it? If Cooke doesn't want to fight him, then he's not going to fight him. Enforcers are only useful against teams with other enforcers as they are basically the only players that will fight other enforcers. There are some players like Mike Rupp will fight another enforcer... but those aren't that common.
I think we can all agree that the NHL's way of handling this didn't change Trevor Gillies from going out and gooning it up again in his first game back after being suspended.
That being said... removing the instigator would increase the chances of players like Trevor Gillies being in the NHL.
One thing that is for sure... the instigator rule changed the NHL. And I would like to see the number of concussion per