Saturday, March 22, 2008

Of Hockey and Icing

We've become instant hockey fans here at Steingruebl World Enterprises after seeing the Sharks play live and in person just up the street. What with them making the playoffs and all, tickets are prohibitively expensive so we've been watching mostly on TV.

Wednesday night, we saw one of the worst sporting injuries I've ever seen. (I don't watch a lot of sports, really, so maybe this isn't saying much.) In a racing attempt to beat an icing call, one of the Sharks bumped Kurtis Foster of the Minnesota Wild and he went crashing into the boards. It took 20 minutes to extract him from the ice on a stretcher. And the guy is now in the hospital up the street with a rod in his leg to stabilize the displaced fracture in his femur. I'm sure that's every bit as horrible as it sounds. It's being reported as a season ending injury (duh!) but I don't think it's going to do great things for Foster's career either.

The thing that gets me is that this was preventable. I'm still learning hockey rules, but apparently the NHL allows icing to be waved off if one of the offending team's players touches the puck first. This means some serious races across big stretches of ice, terminating at those unforgiving boards behind the goal. Other leagues automatically call icing (and stop play) when the puck crosses the goal line. After what I saw Wednesday, I have to say I'm all for automatic icing. The rest of the game was excruciating for me to watch. Foster's leg broke, but it could just as easily have been his neck and I can't justify seeing anyone get hurt like that strictly for my entertainment. The game really is exciting enough without subjecting the players to needless risk of injury.

Last night, we watched the Sharks play the Mighty Ducks. Wow. Not only was there some incredible hockey being played, but the Sharks won! And there was of course some excellent fighting that included blood. I'm starting to realize that the playoffs won't be quite as suitable for the young audience that is Elise as some of the earlier games have been. Andy and I may be watching the rest of the season while the kiddo is in bed. (Yay, TiVo!)

At any rate, if you'd like to learn more about icing, a simple description of the rules is here. You can also read a description of the incident that made me question my newfound love of this sport here. I disagree with the writer that Mitchell should face suspension for needless shoving before the crash that broke Foster's leg. We've seen bigger shoves and harder hits all over the ice that merit only the 2 minutes for tripping that Mitchell got on this one. The difference here was the speed and proximity of the boards. None of which would have been there if the NHL adopted no-touch icing. I hope they get it together soon, because as a fan I can't handle more injuries like that one.

1 comment:

The COG said...

Hockey is great fun to watch, and, according to the Hockey Shop owner in Missoula, great fun for fifty year-olds. That being said, the sport could stand to get over the tough guy thing. The hard hits are one thing but no one should lose a life or career for a game. I think Tony Connigliaro would agree.