Monday, November 10, 2008

More on the NHL Injury Policy

Stu Hackel of The New York Times hockey blog, Slap Shot, today provides a comprehensive look at coverage of the NHL's injury disclosure policy. And before I go any further, I'll point out that I decided to highlight Stu's entry before I reached the end and discovered my own blog mentioned among many in the discussion. But I do, of course, appreciate being included.

Two themes in particular from Hackel's piece caught my interest. First, the policy is now being put under the microscope by more than just Islanders beat writer Greg Logan. Brian Murphy of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press, Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Jim Kelley of Sports Illustrated, Pierre LeBrun of, and Scott Cruickshank of the Calgary Herald have all weighed in on the issue with varying degrees of criticism.

Second, Hackel featured quotes from Jarome Iginla (via an interview with Joe Haggerty of WEEI) and Andrew Brunette (from the Murphy story) that support the argument that players won't necessarily target the injuries of their opponents.

Here are some quotes from Iginla on being targeted and targeting an opponent's injury:

"I personally haven’t been. You know, I can see the one side where it sounds like you don’t want anyone to know if a guy has maybe a bad hand and you’re going to start slashing his hand. But I don’t think that’s going to happen regularly."

"I know when we hear a guy with an injury, we just played [Jason] Arnott. We knew he came back in Nashville, and we knew he came back from a finger injury. We’re trying to be hard on him obviously because it’s his first game back and he plays so well against us, but no one made one comment about let’s go slash his hands or anything like that. I mean, maybe playoff time things heat up even more. But no, we’ve never really talked like that at all."

"Well, we’re probably trying to hit him anyway, but we’re trying to hit him as much as we can."

"And if it’s an ankle injury, there’s nothing a guy is really doing to another guy’s ankle. I guess it would be a hand would come to mind that you might see more, but refs are on that and see that anyway. So yeah, most of them are like yeah, I’m not that personally, obviously, I’m not that worried about it because usually I feel like they’re trying to hit me anyway, or playing against another team’s defensemen and they’re trying to run me into a corner whether my shoulder is good or not."

And from Brunette:

"I don’t get it,'’ 13-year veteran Andrew Brunette of the Wild told Murphy. “I’ve never seen, never heard anybody say, ‘Let’s get him’ because he’s injured.

Muprhy also quoted Sabres coach Lindy Ruff:

"I don’t buy into this thing about being targeted."

Murphy additionally reported the following:

"None of the 10 players interviewed for this story said he ever has been coached to attack a wounded player with intent to further injure him. And none could recall being targeted because of a disclosed injury."

I recommend reading Hackel's whole blog entry, as well as the articles to which he linked, for a wide-ranging view of the issues surrounding the disclosure of injuries in the NHL.


islesblogger said...

That was one great piece - how do you find this stuff Ken?

This is the second time in about a week I found a blog linking to me because someone else recommended a read - strange feeling.

Great find!

Islanders Outsider said...

Slap Shot is a regular read for me, so finding it really didn't take much effort! But we can't all read everything that's out there, so it's great that things do get spread around quite a bit. This was definitely a fun one to come across though.

Dominik said...

Indeed! Thanks for the tip, Ken. I need to stop moving around and getting links to old versions of myself :)

I'd be appeased if they restricted their Kremlin-like policy to playoffs only. Seems like that always happened anyway.

That piece was really interesting, to see how the reactions and GM responses have developed. I can't get past my feeling that:
1) Knowing something about what a player's been through affects my enjoyment/understanding of the game;
2) "Targeting" is much less likely during the regular season than during a 7-game series;
3) The NHL just looks pretty bush league with the wild variety of injury non-descriptions.