NHL - The Hits to the Head Issue

Hits to the head have been discussed for the past few years in the NHL and it is now becoming more and more likely that a rule will be added next year to prevent such hits. Here are videos from the two hits this season that have generated all this talk. First was the hit by Mike Richards on David Booth and more recently the hit by Matt Cooke on Marc Savard:

David Booth and Marc Savard are two excellent hockey players that were knocked out and missed or will miss a number of games because of the effects of a hit to the head. The first question to ask ourselves is whether or not these hits add anything to the game? You can see that after each of these hits, very few people are cheering and everyone is worried about the player laying down on the ice. No one likes to see a player get injured.

I also find it very interesting to ask ourselves why elbowing has been penalized in the NHL for a very long time? The answer is pretty obvious: it's very easy to generate power with an elbow and it's also a part of the body that is quite hard and can severely injure someone. However, now that the equipment has changed, it doesn't really matter how hard the elbow is. If you have hockey equipment near you, take a look at your shoulder pads and your elbow pads, I'd bet that both are as hard and you wouldn't like to get hit with either of those. One might still argue that it's easier to generate power with an elbow than a shoulder but when a player is coming at full speed near center ice, a player doesn't need to generate any additional power; simply stick the elbow out and the player will get knocked down.

The reason I bring that up is that everyone is looking at the Cooke hit to see if he hit him with the elbow or the shoulder but does it really matter? Both elbow pads and shoulder pads are very hard and can make as much damage. There is no way that the NHL would ever allow elbows to the head but then why are shoulders to the head still allowed?

These hits are dangerous and add absolutely nothing to the game. I'd even say they take away from the game because they injure players who fans pay to see on the ice. It seems that the NHL will finally deal with this issue, better late than never.