Get rid of the instigator rule. Bring in no-touch icing. Reduce equipment size. Know who’s on the ice. Bring back respect.
They didn’t always agree, but the five inductees to the Hockey Hall of Fame had no shortage of ideas on how to curtail the sport’s latest scourge — shots to the head, especially when the victim is in a vulnerable position.
The league’s general managers meet today and tomorrow, and are sure to consider some of what Luc Robitaille, Steve Yzerman, Brian Leetch, Brett Hull and Lou Lamoriello had to say yesterday.
“Fix that instigator rule, make it more lenient, and a few guys will be more watchful,” said Robitaille, now in the LA Kings front office. “The pest role today is very popular, but 20 years ago if you were a pest three games in a row, and (retired Wings enforcer) Bob Probert grabbed you, the next thing you know you were a little more careful.”
Robitaille advocated no-touch icing, because goalies were no longer allowed to play the puck in the corners and players can’t hook to slow down a forechecking forward anymore. Robitaille said suspensions should be immediate for hits from behind.
“I wouldn’t even wait to see if there was an injury or not,” said Robitaille. “I would look right away to suspend the guy. Look at the hit. If that hit was dirty, intent to injure, 10 games. That would make a big difference.”
Lamoriello, the Devils president and GM, agreed with Hull that huge equipment made players feel invulnerable.
“I used to wear little caps on my shoulder,” said Hull. “If I hit someone, which wasn’t very often, I felt it just as much as the other guy.”
Lamoriello, who will be at the meeting, worries about over-reacting to the sudden rash of injuries.
“I’m not one who believes that more equipment is going to make it safer,” said Lamoriello. “We’ve got helmets and faceshields. Any time that happens, you have less fear of hurting someone, so you have less respect. Respect and fear go hand in hand.”
None wanted to alter the game dramatically, but all wanted to rid the game of intent-to-injure hits.
“There’s never been a place for intent to injure at anytime in the NHL,” said Leetch.
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