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About that respect between players

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01-24-2014, 04:59 PM
  #1
IMLACHnME
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About that respect between players

The thread about Brett Hull's silencing of Sean Avery's "chirping" at Joe Sakic sparked this thread. There were posts recalling the respect which had existed between the players in the good old days.

Whenever I hear about that respect, I recall three things. First, there is the article, "Atrocities on Ice," Andy Bathgate authored for True magazine, in December, 1959. In this article, Bathgate decried the then too-common practice of spearing, and named six "spearing specialists," Doug Harvey, Tom Johnson, Fern Flaman, Ted Lindsay, Pierre Pilote, and his teammate, Lou Fontinato. He described Gordie Howe as the "meanest player in the game." There's little respect shown in attempting to disembowel the opposition.

Second, there is Lou Fontinato, again. Fontinato's nickname was "Leapin' Louie," because he was famous for his checks where he left his feet. An attempt to check Vic Hadfield in that fashion, when #11 ducked, ended Fontinato's career. It's hard to equate hits like that with respect for one's opponents.

Third, there is the abuse Bobby Hull encountered. As I mentioned in the above-referenced thread, Bryan "Bugsy" Watson was hardly respectful in his efforts to distract and defend against Hull. Neither was John Ferguson. It was possible to shadow Hull without being disrespectful; Claude Provost managed to do it.

Others can list similar incidents from the good old days when little respect was shown.

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01-24-2014, 05:13 PM
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thom
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Dick Irvin Sr. would order hits meaning get a player out of the game.According to his legengary Son-hedid this numerous time.The shills who work for Nhl will pretend that it didnt happened but it did

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01-24-2014, 05:19 PM
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Well, John Wensink threatened to take Lafleur's "head off" in the 1977 finals when they went to Boston for game 3. I don't think I've heard a direct threat like that for some time now. Even if it were to happen in today's game, what would the repercussions be for a threat? A fine?

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01-24-2014, 05:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thom View Post
Dick Irvin Sr. would order hits meaning get a player out of the game.According to his legengary Son-hedid this numerous time.The shills who work for Nhl will pretend that it didnt happened but it did
Can you be more specific with respect to the "shills"?

What would someone working for today's NHL have to gain by claiming that this didn't happen (whether or not it actually did)?

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01-24-2014, 06:18 PM
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Hockey has always been a tough game, and always a game played on the edge. Always. That being said, you can simply watch a game from the 1950s, 1960s and even 1970s. Players don't do a lot of things that they do today. Bathgate may not have liked what he saw in 1959 but you can physically watch a game from that era and be guaranteed to never see someone hit from behind into the boards. The checks would and could be hard (Gadsby on Tim Horton) but there was very little - if any - head hunting that you would see in comparison today.

Players didn't wear helmets, they didn't want to kill each other. Now, there was stickwork of course. I guess similar to today. And I think when people talk about the "good old days" they aren't necessarily saying there was never a dirty hit because to tell you the truth when you played your opponent 14 times a year in the Original 6, you hated them pure and simple. But I think you just see things a lot worse today.

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01-24-2014, 09:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Big Phil View Post
Players didn't wear helmets, they didn't want to kill each other. Now, there was stickwork of course. I guess similar to today. And I think when people talk about the "good old days" they aren't necessarily saying there was never a dirty hit because to tell you the truth when you played your opponent 14 times a year in the Original 6, you hated them pure and simple. But I think you just see things a lot worse today.
Ya pretty much Phil. The players generally did "hate one another" in a healthy way, and one that did not include deliberate intention to injure, nor to recklessly avail oneself of the opportunity to staple someone to the boards from behind; finish a check late or whatever. You kept your elbows down & your stick under control. Any transgression would receive the appropriate punishment, be it a Penalty or if particularly viscous, a full on smackdown by the offended party & victim if capable and if he wasnt, one of his team mates. The Code.... then they brought in the Instigator Rule. So much for self policing.... and here we are.

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01-25-2014, 01:55 AM
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I think there was more respect in the O6 era because the players knew that most of them could not survive on an NHL salary alone; many having off season jobs just to feed their families. Much different attitude. The players were also conditioned to being ruled by ruthless, Tsarist owners as well. Any rebellion or conduct outside what was expected of you and you could be banished to the minors, blackballed or abused to the point where you decided to leave. There was no players union at the time and Lindsay, who orchestrated the beginning of one was traded. He can thank his lucky stars he was a star player and not a 3rd liner or he would have been gone. Then the late 60's came and NA society went through a major change, as did the NHL and MLB. Curt Flood fought for players rights for free agency. Civilians rebelling over the Vietnam war, civil rights for minorities, the Hippie movement, etc...All of a sudden, the landscape changes across every aspect of society. People begin to feel they have rights. More rebellion, more demands for equality, unions arise and protect people. Certainly this attitude trickles into every aspect of society. Sports does not exist in a vacuum. Fighting increases in the NHL, more players acting out, more kids acting out, more women and minorities fighting for rights, equality, fair treatment - all good things. However, with such significant drastic change there will always be people who push the limits and go beyond for good and bad. The 70's was a violent era in hockey and continued well into the late 80's. The players continued to push for higher salaries and more rights. Fighting decreases somewhat, while equipment improves and players start blasting each other from behind into the boards. Sticks get higher and a number of players have to retire due to an injured or loss of an eye. And I could go on into the current era, but I won't. I think you understand my point.

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01-25-2014, 03:14 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LeBlondeDemon10 View Post
I think there was more respect in the O6 era because the players knew that most of them could not survive on an NHL salary alone; many having off season jobs just to feed their families. Much different attitude. The players were also conditioned to being ruled by ruthless, Tsarist owners as well. Any rebellion or conduct outside what was expected of you and you could be banished to the minors, blackballed or abused to the point where you decided to leave. There was no players union at the time and Lindsay, who orchestrated the beginning of one was traded. He can thank his lucky stars he was a star player and not a 3rd liner or he would have been gone. Then the late 60's came and NA society went through a major change, as did the NHL....
It did indeed, and Lindsay of course wasnt the only troublesome instigator who needed to be dispatched, put in his place. Jimmy Thompson of the Leafs, even Red Kelly amongst others all earning the enmity of the Old Guard. There were essentially 2 major developments that followed in the wake of the NHL putting down the creation of a pro-active Players Union. The first was when Carl Brewer demanded he be released from his professional contract & the Reserve Clause so he could be declared an amateur & join Father David Bauers' Canadian National Team program; and the 2nd was the players revolt in Springfield of the AHL against the penurious & draconian Eddie Shore. Enter R. Alan Eagleson....

In what can best be described as revisionist and at worst the self aggrandizement of an absolute Popinjay, Eagleson was recommended to the Springfield players to try & negotiate terms favorable to the players with Eddie Shore. Just how much actual negotiating went on and what exactly transpired depends on who you ask, as there even to this day appears no clear consensus as to just how effective Eagleson was. Shore did step down as Coach & GM, however, he installed his nephew Jack Butterfield (who in 1966 became President of the AHL & held that position for quite some time) in that role, pulling the strings regardless from the shadows. This so called "Slaying the Dragon" on Eaglesons telling was the foundation upon which his reputation was built. That, along with representing Orr & other members of the pre-existant Blue & White Investment Club in Toronto (Leaf players including Brewer & Baun, Pulford & others) and he was launched, founding the NHLPA in 1967.

Obviously in retrospect, one cant help but feel that the players in many respects went from the fire right into the frying pan with a guy like Eagleson purportedly looking out for their best interests, health & welfare huh? Salaries & working conditions were just naturally going to improve anyway, so just how much did Eagleson seriously contribute to any of it? Did he create the wave or just ride it to the beach? I think the answer to that question is pretty obvious. He rode it & milked the players & the game for all it was worth & he was a complete & utter Quizzling, a traitor to their cause, in close collaboration & collusion with eventually John Ziegler & the then most powerful NHL owner at the time, Bill Wirtz of Chicago. So really when you look at it, between 1967 & app 1990 when Eagleson was finally deposed, your looking at nearly 25 further years of deceit & subjugation of the players unlike Baseball, Basketball & the NFL. What really drove up player salaries was the WHA however with its demise in 1979, you saw a planing out through most of the 80's, then with the fall of the Iron Curtain & Eaglesons departure a major market correction that has resulted in now 3 lockouts since 1994. The lockout the NHL's one & only strategy apparently in dealing with labor, in trying to correct its course. Fractious, heavy handed, very much what its always been, just a lot more sophisticated about it.

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01-25-2014, 09:37 AM
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Spearing is not respectful

Quote:
Originally Posted by Big Phil View Post
Hockey has always been a tough game, and always a game played on the edge. Always. That being said, you can simply watch a game from the 1950s, 1960s and even 1970s. Players don't do a lot of things that they do today. Bathgate may not have liked what he saw in 1959 but you can physically watch a game from that era and be guaranteed to never see someone hit from behind into the boards. The checks would and could be hard (Gadsby on Tim Horton) but there was very little - if any - head hunting that you would see in comparison today.

Players didn't wear helmets, they didn't want to kill each other. Now, there was stickwork of course. I guess similar to today. And I think when people talk about the "good old days" they aren't necessarily saying there was never a dirty hit because to tell you the truth when you played your opponent 14 times a year in the Original 6, you hated them pure and simple. But I think you just see things a lot worse today.
Three points, in response:

First, there must have been some truth in Bathgate's criticism. As a result of his article, the NHL fined him $500 and then brought in the five-minute major penalty for spearing. If spearing was not a serious problem, in terms of frequency and seriousness of the consequences, would they have done so?

Let me add that a particular incident provided the final push Bathgate needed to risk the league's ire in drawing attention to the problem of spearing. His teammate, Red Sullivan, had been seriously injured by the not-too-respectful Doug Harvey, who jabbed "Sully's gut" with his stick blade, "as if Harvey was using a bayonet." The words are Andy's, from a Montreal Gazette article, page 26, December 10, 1959. I recommend reading it.

Second, in order to be hit from behind into the boards, you have to have your back to the oncoming checker. With the likes of Fontinato, Flaman, Gadsby, and (fill in the blank) on the ice for the opposition, who would do so? One of the criticisms you hear from yesterday's players is that they can not understand why anyone would turn his back as we see players today doing.

Third, is there anything more dirty in hockey than spearing?

Sorry, if guys were spearing each other in the 50s enough to spark Bathgate's article, and the league to then bring in a major penalty for that infraction, you'll be hard pressed to convince me guys were respectful of each other.

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01-25-2014, 10:29 AM
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Andy Bathgate

December 10, 1959 Gazette article with other related stories:

http://news.google.com/newspapers?id...6083%2C2037400

December 11, 1959 Gazette article with Clarence Campbell responding with spearing penalty data:

http://news.google.com/newspapers?id...5141%2C2271939

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01-25-2014, 10:59 AM
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About Campbell's response

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Originally Posted by Canadiens1958 View Post
December 10, 1959 Gazette article with other related stories:

http://news.google.com/newspapers?id...6083%2C2037400

December 11, 1959 Gazette article with Clarence Campbell responding with spearing penalty data:

http://news.google.com/newspapers?id...5141%2C2271939
Thank you for the links to those articles.

In the second one, it is pointed out that there had only been three spearing penalties called so far, in the 1959-60 season. Was that an indication of few such infractions, or an indication of such infractions rarely being caught and penalized? Hockey fans, young and old, can recall the not-so-long-ago era when there was a lot more holding and hooking, and interfering in general, than was being called. So, someone looking only at the stats and not watching the games might conclude that interference was not a problem. While everyone watching knew it was, which is why Mario Lemieux, like Bathgate decades earlier, went public with his criticism.

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01-25-2014, 11:07 AM
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I've mentioned this in other threads but I will always remember in university that the intramural league required all to wear helmets, full cages, and neck protectors along with body checking and fighting being forbidden. That certainly did not stop that league being filled with jerks and cheap shot artists with their stickwork and hitting from behind. I avoided that and played with a group of older adults off campus that permitted hitting and even me going sans lid. A much cleaner and happier brand of hockey, so this definitely settled the respect issue with me back in the early 90s.

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01-25-2014, 11:47 AM
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The notion that there was more respect way back when strikes me as being fallacious thinking, viewing an era through the nostalgia filter. Was it respect if Lindsay and Rocket Richard couldn't stand to be in the same room together, decades after their careers ended? Were stick swinging incidents indicative of the respect players had for another?

If anything I would say players respect another more today. Trades were rare until very recently, meaning opposing players built up a real dislike of another. In this era a player could be on the losing side of playoff series and then either sign or be traded to that same team. With social media and mobile phones players intereact with another more, it's not rare for opposing players to exchange texts or even hang out with another before a game. How often did Gordie Howe engage in social events with the Rocket?

Yes, hockey's always been a violent sport, played on an edge and there have always been acts that went over that edge, but I would say, overall, players respect more another today. That players hit harder than before is due to several factors, namely the change in equipment, changes in coaching (lengths of shifts, the 'sprint' mentality players have now, etc) and the players becoming bigger, stronger, faster, smarter, etc while the rink size has remained unchanged.

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01-25-2014, 12:15 PM
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Spearing

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Originally Posted by IMLACHnME View Post
Thank you for the links to those articles.

In the second one, it is pointed out that there had only been three spearing penalties called so far, in the 1959-60 season. Was that an indication of few such infractions, or an indication of such infractions rarely being caught and penalized? Hockey fans, young and old, can recall the not-so-long-ago era when there was a lot more holding and hooking, and interfering in general, than was being called. So, someone looking only at the stats and not watching the games might conclude that interference was not a problem. While everyone watching knew it was, which is why Mario Lemieux, like Bathgate decades earlier, went public with his criticism.
Bolded. Has been the case since the start of the NHL or hockey for that matter. No player ever missed games or shifts due to interference, a hook or a hold. Spearing, butt ending, contacting the head,slew footing - especially pre helmet days, were/are different. Serious physical damage may result and referees have major escalation problems on their hands.

Touched on above - players from previous eras not exposing their back, but not expanded upon, is the ability of players to establish a security perimeter and recognize/manage risk on ice. Knowing how to keep the opponents stick safe and controlled is a lost skill. Keeping the opponents hands away from the body, likewise.

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01-25-2014, 01:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IMLACHnME View Post
Three points, in response:

First, there must have been some truth in Bathgate's criticism. As a result of his article, the NHL fined him $500 and then brought in the five-minute major penalty for spearing. If spearing was not a serious problem, in terms of frequency and seriousness of the consequences, would they have done so?

Let me add that a particular incident provided the final push Bathgate needed to risk the league's ire in drawing attention to the problem of spearing. His teammate, Red Sullivan, had been seriously injured by the not-too-respectful Doug Harvey, who jabbed "Sully's gut" with his stick blade, "as if Harvey was using a bayonet." The words are Andy's, from a Montreal Gazette article, page 26, December 10, 1959. I recommend reading it.

Second, in order to be hit from behind into the boards, you have to have your back to the oncoming checker. With the likes of Fontinato, Flaman, Gadsby, and (fill in the blank) on the ice for the opposition, who would do so? One of the criticisms you hear from yesterday's players is that they can not understand why anyone would turn his back as we see players today doing.

Third, is there anything more dirty in hockey than spearing?

Sorry, if guys were spearing each other in the 50s enough to spark Bathgate's article, and the league to then bring in a major penalty for that infraction, you'll be hard pressed to convince me guys were respectful of each other.
Sullivan suffered a ruptured spleen.

http://www.greatesthockeylegends.com...-sullivan.html

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01-25-2014, 01:33 PM
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Yesterday and Today

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Originally Posted by cynicism View Post
The notion that there was more respect way back when strikes me as being fallacious thinking, viewing an era through the nostalgia filter. Was it respect if Lindsay and Rocket Richard couldn't stand to be in the same room together, decades after their careers ended? Were stick swinging incidents indicative of the respect players had for another?

If anything I would say players respect another more today. Trades were rare until very recently, meaning opposing players built up a real dislike of another. In this era a player could be on the losing side of playoff series and then either sign or be traded to that same team. With social media and mobile phones players intereact with another more, it's not rare for opposing players to exchange texts or even hang out with another before a game. How often did Gordie Howe engage in social events with the Rocket?

Yes, hockey's always been a violent sport, played on an edge and there have always been acts that went over that edge, but I would say, overall, players respect more another today. That players hit harder than before is due to several factors, namely the change in equipment, changes in coaching (lengths of shifts, the 'sprint' mentality players have now, etc) and the players becoming bigger, stronger, faster, smarter, etc while the rink size has remained unchanged.
Following has a few images of Maurice Richard and Gordie Howe interacting socially.

https://www.google.ca/search?q=gordi...iw=640&bih=419

Interacting socially. Without sponsorship, junior and NCAA or youth teammates and friends wind up on opposing teams. Likewise brothers, tended to an organization whereas today with the draft they are dispersed throughout the league. So you will have more social interaction but this does not represent respect, just a wider social network. Counterbalanced with the situation in youth hockey today where youngsters in opposing organizations do not interact after games, during tournaments, etc.

The major difference today is that hockey players hit to hurt, not to gain possession of the puck. This is where respect is seriously eroded.

The actual violent act - stick swinging, slew footing, checking from behind, etc is just a manifestation. Difference between today and generations ago is that today the targeted player is rarely given a chance to defend himself.

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01-25-2014, 01:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IMLACHnME View Post
Three points, in response:

First, there must have been some truth in Bathgate's criticism. As a result of his article, the NHL fined him $500 and then brought in the five-minute major penalty for spearing. If spearing was not a serious problem, in terms of frequency and seriousness of the consequences, would they have done so?

Let me add that a particular incident provided the final push Bathgate needed to risk the league's ire in drawing attention to the problem of spearing. His teammate, Red Sullivan, had been seriously injured by the not-too-respectful Doug Harvey, who jabbed "Sully's gut" with his stick blade, "as if Harvey was using a bayonet." The words are Andy's, from a Montreal Gazette article, page 26, December 10, 1959. I recommend reading it.

Second, in order to be hit from behind into the boards, you have to have your back to the oncoming checker. With the likes of Fontinato, Flaman, Gadsby, and (fill in the blank) on the ice for the opposition, who would do so? One of the criticisms you hear from yesterday's players is that they can not understand why anyone would turn his back as we see players today doing.

Third, is there anything more dirty in hockey than spearing?

Sorry, if guys were spearing each other in the 50s enough to spark Bathgate's article, and the league to then bring in a major penalty for that infraction, you'll be hard pressed to convince me guys were respectful of each other.
Spearing isn't clean at all. I would guess it would have been an issue. I am not saying stuff like that wasn't dirty, but Bathgate would see it become much worse in the coming years. I can only imagine what he thinks of today's game if he didn't like it in 1959.

Players back then didn't turn their backs to an oncoming checker, no. But they didn't have helmets on either. That being said, head injuries soared like a rocket starting in 1979-'80 when mandatory helmets got grandfathered in. Even as late as the 1970s if a player was in a vulnerable position with his back turned (and it would happen at times) he wouldn't have been rammed from behing.

Remember when Mike Modano got that horrific hit from behind from Ruslan Salei in 1999? Modano was vulnerable but he wasn't being stupid, he was coming in off the rush. Salei threw him into the boards. What I am saying is that things like that weren't happening. Spears and some naughty stick work for sure. But nothing that would kill a person (save for Eddie Shore's hit in 1933).

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01-25-2014, 01:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cynicism View Post
The notion that there was more respect way back when strikes me as being fallacious thinking, viewing an era through the nostalgia filter. Was it respect if Lindsay and Rocket Richard couldn't stand to be in the same room together, decades after their careers ended? Were stick swinging incidents indicative of the respect players had for another?

If anything I would say players respect another more today. Trades were rare until very recently, meaning opposing players built up a real dislike of another. In this era a player could be on the losing side of playoff series and then either sign or be traded to that same team. With social media and mobile phones players intereact with another more, it's not rare for opposing players to exchange texts or even hang out with another before a game. How often did Gordie Howe engage in social events with the Rocket?

Yes, hockey's always been a violent sport, played on an edge and there have always been acts that went over that edge, but I would say, overall, players respect more another today. That players hit harder than before is due to several factors, namely the change in equipment, changes in coaching (lengths of shifts, the 'sprint' mentality players have now, etc) and the players becoming bigger, stronger, faster, smarter, etc while the rink size has remained unchanged.
You make some very good points. Nostalgia can be an unstable filter to view history through. I think the biggest difference between the O6 era and today has been the implementation of the player's union. Player's have been able to communicate and unite under common interests. They can speak freely amongst each other and not fear retribution from an intolerant ruling regime. Friendships have formed in spite of intense competition on the ice. However, let us also not forget that, in spite of increased benevolent communication between players because of contact through playing for one's country, etc..., that it was not that long ago that the Battle of Quebec occurred and there are still grudges held between players today. I doubt that Kris Draper sends a Christmas card to Claude Lemieux nor Marc Savard to Matt Cooke either.

We also must not forget the recent era the NHL went through; the era of players charging one's opponent to deliver blindsiding vicious checks. Now this behavior was limited to only a handful of offenders. And likely in the O6 era, their version of attempts to injure were as well. However, this type of conduct does not just fall on the responsibility of the players. The NHL and its officials are just as guilty for allowing this type of behavior to occur. I don't see much of a difference between trying to knock a player out of a game, season or career with a blindsided check than trying to disembowel an opponent via spearing in the old days. Players will always push the limits of the rulebook no matter what the era. It is the responsibility of the NHL and its officials to monitor and sanction the conduct of the players. They have failed to do so until recently.

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01-25-2014, 02:24 PM
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Red Sullivan / Jacques Plante

From Parlons Sport, Jacques Plante's version of the Red Sullivan saga about getting speared:

http://news.google.com/newspapers?id...4657%2C3023098

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01-25-2014, 05:52 PM
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Respect revisited

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Originally Posted by Big Phil View Post
Players back then didn't turn their backs to an oncoming checker, no. But they didn't have helmets on either. That being said, head injuries soared like a rocket starting in 1979-'80 when mandatory helmets got grandfathered in. Even as late as the 1970s if a player was in a vulnerable position with his back turned (and it would happen at times) he wouldn't have been rammed from behing.

Remember when Mike Modano got that horrific hit from behind from Ruslan Salei in 1999? Modano was vulnerable but he wasn't being stupid, he was coming in off the rush. Salei threw him into the boards. What I am saying is that things like that weren't happening. Spears and some naughty stick work for sure. But nothing that would kill a person (save for Eddie Shore's hit in 1933).
Two points in reply:

First, in the 1970s, Mike Robitaille's career ended prematurely, thanks to a very hard blind-side hit by Dennis Owchar.

Second, apparently it is possible that a hockey blade in the stomach can kill someone. After Harvey bayoneted Sullivan, the latter was given his last rites by a Catholic priest while he was in the hospital. It was believed, in the beginning, that Sullivan would die. Fortunately, he did not, and would return to the NHL.

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