The NFL has come under the concussion microscope in recent years – and rightfully so. Countless former players have come forth to discuss their health issues, many of which, it seems, are the result of repeated head trauma or CTE.
But what about the NHL? Should the NHL be paying more attention to hits to the head and neck?
“Well, I think they are,” former NHL player Tyson Nash said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “We’ve seen that in the last five, six years. They’re really trying to take that out of the game – and rightfully so. I got young kids. They all play hockey and they all play football, and the game is changing. You watched that movie, Concussion, and for good reason. It has to change. This is a real issue in pro sports. People are dying and people are losing lives, so you have to take it serious and I think both leagues are doing exactly that. I love that I have kids playing these great games, but you want to make it safe.”
Nash said he had a “pretty good wake-up call” during the Coyotes/Blackhawks series in 2012, when Raffi Torres left his feet to lay out Marian Hossa, who was hospitalized after the hit.
“I thought that was a great hit at the time,” Nash said. “I thought that was playoff hockey. I was rah-rahing the whole deal. Obviously we found it wasn’t (okay).”
Torres was suspended 25 games.
“So that was a good wake-up call for me,” Nash said. “Things have changed. The rules have changed. You’re not allowed to make those big hits, especially when the head is the point of contact. So they’re calling it tight. I like the consistency. I think as a player, that’s all you really want – to make sure that the refs in the NHL are being consistent with the suspensions that are given out. Obviously they want to take away the head shots and the concussion issues that we’ve seen in football and now with hockey. I think that’s a real good thing for our game.”
That, however, doesn’t mean the game has lost its physicality. Nash cited Brian Boyle’s hit on Islanders defenseman Thomas Hickey in Tampa Bay’s 5-4 overtime win Tuesday as an example.
“I love that hit,” Nash said. “It was a clean hit. The head was avoided. You don’t want to lose that. I still get most excited about a fight and then a big hit and then a goal – and really in that order. You definitely don’t want to lose that physical play. It’s a big part of the game, but I do like the consistency factor.”