OTTAWA - Most Canadians say rules regarding hits to the head in the NHL are too lenient.
The latest Canadian Press-Harris Decima survey suggests a majority of Canadians think hits to the head are done on purpose and should be more heavily penalized.
The NHL's general managers held three days of meetings this week in Boca Raton, Fla., and decided not to create a new penalty banning all hits to the head. Instead, they called for stricter enforcement of boarding and charging penalties and indicated they'd like to see stiffer suspensions for repeat offenders.
A clear majority of Canadians—72 per cent—told Harris Decima rules regarding hits to the head aren't harsh enough.
The telephone survey of 1,000 Canadians was conducted from March 10-13 and is considered accurate plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
Interestingly, Canadians do not feel fighting should be banned from hockey, with 58 per cent indicating they like it.
"Canadian hockey fans want a tough game and oppose the idea of banning fighting, but they are the ones most convinced that the NHL should get tough on hits to the head," said pollster Doug Anderson, senior vice-president at Harris Decima. "It may seem like a contradictory set of views, but it suggests that the violence of fighting is not seen to be quite as detrimental to the quality of the game as head hits."
The NHL has seen a rise in concussions this season with approximately 80 players—including Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby—having suffered the injury to date.
According to the league, 26 per cent of those injuries were the result of accidental or inadvertent contact while 17 per cent were ruled to be the result of an illegal hit.