I don't think anyone would disagree that early on we all had the sense that the players, for the most part, were a lot more cautious when thinking about making a hit after the number of suspensions that were handed out during the exhibition schedule.
Many, many times during a game you could see players hesitating when an opportunity to hit someone arose.
There was certainly a feeling amongt the players that they didn't want to be the next person to be punished like Columbus defenceman James Wisniewski after he was handed a very stiff suspension which included eight regular season games, plus the loss of a whopping $536,585.36 US for his illegal hit in preseason.
Can you blame them?
I really thought the crackdown worked to a certain degree but I'm a little unsure where it's going down the road. Recently we've seen a few hits that may have been precisely what league disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan talked about in terms of illegal checks, yet he has chosen to not to discipline the players.
Having said that, I suppose we really won't know the real answer until around the 60 game mark when the pressure really ramps up and a lot more is one the line.
Will there still be an appetite from the NHL to severely punish players for a direct hit in which the principle point of contact is the head?
Right now, I say yes but maybe closer to the playoffs the severity of the suspension maybe lessened.
We shall see!
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