Detroit — Going into play Friday, the last two suspensions in the NHL have been for checks to the head.
Evaluating the efficacy of each sanction continues, while general managers discuss changing the rule.
As sports continue to try to protect athletes amid mounting evidence that even casual, repeated contact can lead to dire long-term consequences for the brain, establishing proper rules and uniformly enforcing them has proven difficult.
“I think that whoever sits in the chair that George Parros sits in is going to be scrutinized and always has been since they created it, and will continue to,” Jeff Blashill said Friday, referring to the head of NHL Department of Player Safety.
“I think there is a wide variety of opinions on how it probably should be called, from the people who are giving him direction.”
During their annual offseasons meetings, some general managers supported amending Rule 48 to outlaw all hits to the head, including incidental contact.
The main portion of the rule currently states, “A hit resulting in contact with an opponent’s head where the head was the main point of contact and such contact to the head was avoidable is not permitted.”
Blashill said it would be difficult to retain body-checking and then tell players they could never contact the head.
“It’s almost like we’re wanting two different things,” he said. “It’s hard to say we’re allowing hits an dthen not allow them to go anywhere near a certain part of the body. How do you do both?
“Do you want to have physicality in the game or not is the biggest thing that everyone involved in those questions has to answer. If you want to have physicality it will be impossible to take out every time you get hit in the head.”
Old friend returns
Some of the Red Wings said they were happy to see their former defenseman Brendan Smith in town Friday with the Rangers.
“Yeah, Smitty’s a good buddy of mine,” said Danny DeKeyser, flashing a big smile. “I still chat with him, every now and then. It’s good to see him out there.
“But, you know, I’ll be trying to score on him when he is out there.”
Smith played in all 15 Rangers games.
Last season, after signing a four-year $17.4 million deal, the Rangers placed Smith on waivers four months into the season and assigned him to the AHL.
“It looks like Brendan’s playing pretty good hockey. So, that’s great for him,” Blashill said. “I like Brendan lots. I recruited him unsuccessfully to Miami.
“So, I hope he’s having great success.”
The Red Wings Alumni are raising money Saturday for the Guardian Angels Medical Service Dogs, an organization that trains and donates medical service dogs to veterans and first responders suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, brain injuries and other medical needs.
The Wings alumni will play Team Stahl at 12:30 p.m. Saturday at the St. Clair Shores Civic Arena, 20000 Stephens St.
Admission is $10. Red Wings memorabilia will be available for purchase.
Red Wings vs. Hurricanes
Faceoff: 7 p.m. Saturday, PNC Arena, Raliegh, N.C.
TV/radio: FSD, 97.1 FM
Notes: The Hurricanes season is the opposite of the Red Wings. Off to a good start under first-year coach Rod Brind’Amour (Michigan State), Carolina has won just two of 10 (2-7-1). One thing is similar to the Wings, however, is even when the Hurricanes generate a lot of chances, they have trouble scoring.