In the past few weeks, the hockey world has seen a couple very serious hits and these hits have sparked a controversial topic in hockey.
First, we had Zack Kassian’s hit on Matt Kennedy that looked like a wrestling body-slam.
Then we had Patrice Cormier’s hit that left recipient Mikael Tam lying on the ice in convulsions.
What we all have to remember is that hitting will always have its place in the game; it’s a big part of it. However, intentional direct hits to the head will never have a place in the game because there is no need for that and it crosses the line. The textbook hockey hit is to use your shoulder into the opponent’s body, but not directly to the opponent’s head.
I understand that often a player who is much taller than the player he is about to hit will unintentionally strike the opponent’s head. Those kinds of hits are debatable and tough to call. Hits like Cormier’s and Kassian’s, however, are intentionally aiming for a player’s head with the use of the elbow or hands and are not debatable; they simply won’t be tolerated in the game today.
The big thing with hitting nowadays is to hit hard, but safely. Hitting someone in the head doesn’t provide a winner in either situation; the hitter will get suspended and the receiver will most likely be injured.
I know Ontario League commissioner Dave Branch is doing his best to minimize these hits; you can tell by the lengthy suspensions he has handed out to Kassian and Michael Liambas.
Hopefully players will be mindful of these suspensions when they are about to make a hit and stay away from the head.
BUILDING TOWARDS SOMETHING SPECIAL
The final stretch for the Mississauga-St. Michael’s Majors is going to be an exciting time that will lead us into the playoffs. It is also going to be a run that really tests our club as far as being able to dig deep and work hard day in and day out.
With three games left against division rival Barrie, a road trip out west where we face off against solid teams in Windsor and Plymouth, and a couple more games against Niagara, who has had our number all year, we have a tough schedule left to kill off before we get into the post-season.
Since we’re highly ranked in the Canadian League and are a top-four team in the OHL, we’re expecting to face every team’s best game, but that is what every elite team wants. We’re a very good team right now, but as a collective group, we’re working extremely hard to take it to the next level and be classified as an elite team.
We all understand we have roles to play. We all need to buy into systems and we all need to block every shot, finish each check, drive to the net every play and minimize mistakes each night. Once we start to complete these tasks and do the little things to perfection, we will be an elite team.
Now that we’re in the final stretch with less than 20 games to go, off-ice preparation becomes more important than ever. This includes proper eating and sleeping habits as well as monitoring your energy levels.
Practices start to shorten up so not as much energy is spent, but the pace is still at top speed. The workouts become even more important because we need to maintain our cardio.
With no trades taking place at the deadline, the dressing room houses the same tight group we’ve developed throughout the course of the year.
This is very important when it comes to playoff-style hockey because you get the feeling everyone is in it together and will do everything for each other.
I have the utmost confidence in the boys that we will pull off a successful final stretch and head into the playoffs peaking at the top of our game, which will translate into post-season success.
If we all stick it out together, sacrifice everything we have and show the desire to win that we have shown all season, there should be absolutely no problems.
Right winger Gregg Sutch enters his second year in the Ontario League having been traded over the summer to Mississauga from Sarnia. The 17-year-old native of Newmarket, Ont., is highly touted for the 2010 NHL draft. He will blog throughout the season for THN.com. Read Sutch’s other blogs HERE.