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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Hockey needs to check itself before it wrecks itself

Published: October 30, 2009
Section: Sports

The World Series started Wednesday night, and congrats to the Phillies who won 6-1, but frankly I have little interest. I mean no disrespect to all the Yankees and Phillies fans out there that are beyond excited; I just have officially moved on to hockey. And last week in hockey there was a lot of excitement, which brought the league both good and bad attention.

One of the biggest controversies in hockey today is the checking and fighting in the game. To some people, it is an unnecessary part of the game, though I honestly think these are the people that do not watch often or at all; to others, it is another element that can be used as defense or a way to get the crowd involved and a team revved up.

It is also another reminder for players to keep their heads up while skating down center ice. But no matter what your opinion is about checking in hockey, there were some hits this weekend to make everyone question checking.

The first hit of the weekend was on Friday night, with Toumo Ruutu of the Carolina Hurricanes checking Darcy Tucker of the Colorado Avalanche. This hit not only looked nasty; it was completely illegal.

There are some simple rules to checking at the boards in hockey. If you can see the guy’s jersey number and name, do not hit him. In fact, in youth hockey teams have a stop sign instead of the name

That is to avoid checks just like this one. Ruutu checked Tucker against the boards, and Tucker fell straight down. He did not crumple down to the ice; he fell down like a board. It was scary to watch.

Ruutu was suspended three games for this hit and has since said that he called Tucker to apologize, but will not change his style of play. Tucker had a concussion and cuts and is sidelined indefinitely.

Next up is the Dallas Starts Steve Ott’s two hits in one game, first against Carlo Colaiacovo and then BJ Crombeen of the St. Louis Blues. The first was a hip check which did not look especially dirty, but Colaiacovo landed really awkwardly.

The problems were that Ott had plenty of time to decide not to check him but did anyway, and during the check Ott seemed to lift Colaiacovo up and dump him on the ice.

Ott’s second hit of the game was a knee-on-knee hit against Crombeen. This was a hit that was penalized by the referees, and Crombeen was good enough to start a fight to defend himself. This was a dirtier hit on Ott’s part. It had the potential to be really dangerous. For this hit Ott received a minor penalty during the game and a five-minute fighting major.

Crombeen received an instigating minor, five-minute fighting major, and a game misconduct. More importantly, after the game Ott was suspended two games. This was mostly for the hit on Colaiacovo, but the league takes into consideration a player’s past record and likelihood to act this way in the future, which Ott proved very likely with his check against Crombeen.

The final dirty hit of the weekend was Rod Scuderi of the Los Angeles Kings checking Jason Chimera of the Columbus Blue Jackets. This is another hip check that looks really bad when you watch it.

Scuderi looked like he was almost on his knees when Chimera went flying over Scuderi. It was a clean hit, but Chimera landed on his face, cutting himself in the process.

And to make matters worse, Scuderi did not get penalized while Chimera got a ten-minute misconduct. After the game Scuderi did receive an undisclosed fine.

Apparently the reason Scuderi did not get suspended was because Chimera was not injured and was able to return to the game.

So this is where the league is now. Some people received suspensions, some fines. And this is why people are so upset about checking, because the dangerous checks do not seem to come with enough punishment to discourage people from doing such a check in the future.