Calling High Sticking Penalties Just as Important as Visors
Jes made another post about visors today. If you read his site it should take you all of a second to realize he thinks all players should wear them.
I’ll add this personal note in before I get started: I’ve played in leagues where face protection is required. I tried visors. They were awful for the top reason being the sweat factor (wear glasses when it’s raining outside and tell me how clearly you can see). So what’d I do? I wore a cage. Yes, there are lines, but I didn’t feel they obstructed my vision nearly as much as sweat would warp it. NHLers don’t have that option though. Players may only wear full face guards like a cage with medical clearance.
Besides flying pucks (which are a good reason), high sticks are usually the other reason why a player would want to wear a visor. With or without visors, the league should start calling high sticks more. Sticks are being swung around too freely, even with the “new” rules in place. Most agree the NHL will eventually require players to wear visors.
Some will tell you that one of the reasons for this is the fact that players must wear shields in the juniors and the more protection one wears, the more invulnerable they feel (and the less think about also hurting someone else). While this could be one of the reasons, there’s no reason to let it slide anymore. The NHL should sit down with the major junior leagues and have a joint crack-down on high sticking. Don’t let players start swinging their sticks in juniors and hopefully they’ll keep them down for their whole careers. Do whatever it takes:
- Give double-minors for all high sticking calls
- Make a new “two minute major”, where a player sits the full penalty, whether or not the other team scores
- Attach a misconduct to all high sticking calls, so while it may not hurt the player’s team, he gets less playing time (I think this might be the way to go, especially at the junior level)
- Start attaching suspensions to certain amounts of high sticking penalties
Another reason sticks may be flying is because sticks are so light nowadays. Maybe having such lightweight sticks isn’t such a good thing? Is the weight really causing players to score more or less? I don’t think so. It may be easier for the players to carry around, but if it isn’t leading to better play, what’s the point? So players’ arms aren’t as tired? I’m not suggesting anyone skate around with a tree trunk, but a few more ounces on these sticks could go a long way to keeping them down some.
Make sticks have a minimum weight, call penalties tight. Keeping sticks down will help injuries no matter what level of protection players have.
For the fight fans: I’m not so sure fighting would be affected as much as one would think. Players take them off in the juniors, they can do the same in the NHL, and unlike what Tom Benjamin thinks, I still think that can be done in a spontaneous fight (at least sometimes). One thing I’d hope the NHL would change if visors become mandatory would be repealing the automatic unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that’s given when a player receives an instigator penalty and is wearing a shield.
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