Montreal Canadiens sniper Mike Cammalleri says having superstar Sidney Crosby speak out about headshots will help other NHL players voice opinions on what used to be a taboo subject.
"What the immediate effect is for me is that it allows other players now to come out and say 'OK, it's not uncool to say what I really believe, and that I'm not a soft player because I don't think we should have headshots. I'm not a player a general manager won't want on his team. I'm now going to voice that opinion,"' Cammalleri said Wednesday as the Canadiens gathered for their annual charity golf tournament.
"I think it's very good of Sid to be able to do that. He's under a big microscope, the biggest in our game, and I commend him for doing that. I think that it's important that we don't be ignorant to what's going on in our game."
Crosby has been out of action with concussion symptoms since early January after taking shots to the head in consecutive games. While the Pittsburgh Penguins centre is optimistic he will be able to play again, no date has been set for his return.
The 24-year-old urged the league to take action on shots to the head when he met with the media Sept. 7 in Pittsburgh.
'The game is so quick that you're getting players that you would consider high hockey IQ players, playing the game with their head up, still susceptible to [collisions].' — Canadiens forward Mike Cammalleri on headshots
"As a league, as a union, I think we've all educated ourselves a lot in the last six or seven months," Crosby said. "I think it can go further. At the end of the day, I don't think there's a reason not to take [headshots] out."
Cammalleri, one of the NHL Players' Association representatives on the league's competition committee, which looks at proposals for rules changes, said that if Crosby can go down from a headshot, anyone can.
"The speed of our game has changed," he said. "It used to be that it was OK for the puck carrier to have the responsibility of having his head up and having awareness, and that generally, if that took place you weren't going to have these collisions.
"Now the game is so quick that you're getting players that you would consider high hockey IQ players, playing the game with their head up, still susceptible to this. The best example is Sidney Crosby. He's probably the best player in the world at playing with his head up and probably plays with the highest IQ in the world. And he's missing games because of a concussion. So anyone's susceptible to it."
Crosby's concussion and the death this year of three past and present NHL enforcers at least has players discussing the issue.
"You have to be aware of everyone's agenda, everyone has a personal agenda and reasons why they want or don't want certain things, but these conversations are going on in the room now, where it used to be taboo," said Cammalleri. "You weren't allowed to say that because it meant you were soft, that you weren't tough enough.
"I have no problem with taking a good slash or chop and you end up with a bruise or even a broken bone. Hey, we play a tough sport. But when it comes to the brain, let's not be ignorant."