BOCA RATON, Fla. (KDKA/AP) – After the second day of NHL general manager meetings in Florida, Commissioner Gary Bettman announced the league will not be banning head shots.
Instead, Bettman and the general managers opted for tighter enforcement of charging and boarding penalties and increased suspensions of illegal head hits, especially for repeat offenders.
Many critics have been calling for a ban on head shots after an increase of concussions among players this season. The criticism intensified after the face of the NHL, Sidney Crosby, has been out since January with a concussion.
Bettman said a ban would be too radical of a response and might slow down the game.
Earlier in the week, Crosby noted such a ban or rule change might be difficult to implement.
“There are times when there is going to be accidental contact, and how do you deal with that?” he said. “If someone targets the head, then yeah, I think that should be banned. … It’s whether or not it’s intentional. Sometimes that’s tough to really know when you’re talking about a fast game like hockey.”
The general managers may still propose stricter rules on head hits involving a vulnerable player or excessive force, Bettman said.
Nearly half of all concussions this season have been caused by legal hits, according to a league study.
The general managers believe stiffer, more aggressive enforcement of charging and boarding violations will reduce that rate.