Flyers legend Eric Lindros takes bold stance on body contact and its place in hockey

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While speaking at a concussion symposium at Western University on Thursday, Eric Lindros suggested that it’s about time that the NHL consider banning body contact entirely from the game. Other NHL vets have made drastic remarks like this in the past. Dan Carcillo recently came out with a video on his struggles after hockey that could bring a tear to your eye. There’s a shocking amount of past players who have made it clear they think a major change is needed to make the sport they love safer. But few NHL veterans have the impact on the hockey landscape that Lindros does.

Big E was a big, bruising force the likes the NHL had never seen. He combined skill and strength and reinvented what a power forward was capable of. Add that to the fact that he was one of the most highly touted players to ever enter the league and that very few people’s careers were affected by head trauma the way Lindros’ was, his statement can’t be taken lightly.

Concussions and the risks they pose to a player’s future, not just in hockey but over the course of their entire lives, can’t be understated. As more and more research is done and doctors gain a better understanding of head trauma, the easier it gets to accept that something truly needs to be done to protect the people who play the great game of hockey. Now, do I believe that we need to go as far as Lindros thinks we do? No. Body contact lays at the very foundation of this sport and taking it out entirely would completely change the game. Lindros amended his statements a bit Friday:

“Clean body contact” is the key here. Head contact needs to go. Laying a crushing shoulder into the chest of another player or throwing your hips into a guy to take him off the puck, those types of plays should stay in the game forever. Slowly letting them enter the game as you climb the different tiers is absolutely a valid idea. I believe for the most part hitting isn’t a prominent part of youth hockey and at a certain point, putting your every day life at risk in an adult amateur league is definitely irresponsible.

Personally, I believe this issue is more of a culture change type of thing than a rule change one. Players can only be told what to do so much. In today’s lightning fast NHL, quick decision making makes up 90% of all decision making. To be able to read the ice, get up to speed, make a play and predict what to do in the moments after, the way a player leaves his feet to lay a hit can often get lost in the shuffle. Here’s the thing though… it just can’t.

 

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A general concern for your fellow hockey player should be the number one thing on any NHLer’s, and anyone who laces them up at all’s, minds. Right now, in today’s hockey, it’s simply not. There’s so much pressure from team executives, fans and media to be great that the truly important things have, at times, fallen to the wayside. Goals, salaries and rings should all come second to the well being of your fellow man.

A change is needed, taking hitting out of hockey entirely just simply isn’t the answer.

 

Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

 

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