Sharks radio analyst Jamie Baker wrote in his blog on the team’s website that the Blues themselves had some responsibility, citing among other things the pass from defenseman Alex Pietrangelo through the neutral zone that put Perron at risk. Baker, as well as several Sharks players, also accused Perron of embellishing the damage by lying prone on the ice, noting he quickly returned to action once penalties were determined. The Blues forward, however, missed his next two games because of headaches.
There is a continuing controversy over the ejection and suspension of Thornton after his hit on Perron. It’s devolved somewhat into a lot of sub-arguments, including whether Perron embellished the injury and whether the Blues erred in letting him play later in the game.
My feeling was that given the hit to the head rule and that referees don’t have instant replay or slow motion to evaluate a hit with that the penalty and ejection were fine. The speed and angle of the hit was such I don’t blame a referee at all for making that call. I was convinced, however, that there wouldn’t be a suspension. I don’t understand the two games off. Still don’t.
There is a legitimate issue involving larger players hitting smaller players, and the larger player has to work harder to not hit the smaller player in the head. Player safety should be a priority, my recommendation on this is that larger players get used to it. Believe it or not, they’re not stupid, and they’ll figure out how to make the hit without hitting the head once players realize they’re going to get penalized for it. A few hits will end up called — but I’ll take healthy players here over a few unfortunate hits.
The whole diving/embellishment thing is a thorny problem. How do you solve it? the league hasn’t figured it out yet. But — combine it with the question of whether Perron should have been allowed back into the game, and I think you have an angle towards a solution.
It’s simple. If a player is injured on the ice to the degree that a trainer has to go out an attend to them, that player is not allowed back into the game until seen by a doctor and the doctor clears them to play. That means they have to go to the locker room and be seen. Period. That prevents a player from going back to the bench and convincing a non-doctor he’s okay. It also is a strong disincentive for that player to — embellish. No more “he’s dead! he missed a shift!” and the trained personnel has a chance to evaluate the injury and make sure he really is okay before coming back. In the case of an injury where a player goes down to a hit to the head — the player can’t come back until the doctor and referee talk and the referee approves him back into play (in other words, in between periods). That way, hits to the head have time to be carefully evaluated AND the referee has a chance to be sure proper procedures were followed in evaluating.
The one exception to this rule are goaltenders, but the referee in that case should be given the authority to send the goalie off for evaluation if he goes down and has to be attended to.
Player safety becomes a higher priority, and in a way that discourages diving. Seems like a no-brainer to me.