Detroit Red Wings: Harsher suspensions will help eliminate dangerous hits

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The NHL has suspended rookie forward Juraj Slafkovsky for his dangerous, dirty hit on Detroit Red Wings forward Matt Luff Tuesday night.

Luff was off balance facing the benches, a few feet away from the boards, as he failed to send the puck deep into Montreal’s zone. His numbers pointed directly toward Montreal forward Juraj Slafkovsky; the rookie forward took a couple of full strides and delivered an inexcusable hit from behind. The collision sent Luff head-first crashing into the boards, and a scrum ensued.

Luff will undergo wrist surgery and be forced to miss 10-12 weeks; he’s fortunate to avoid serious head or neck injuries. This is the type of hit the league needs to eliminate. How can you stop it, you may wonder? By strict punishment. It’s an absolute joke that Slafkovsky receives the same punishment Detroit Red Wings forward Michael Rasmussen got for careless use of his stick.

Rasmussen received a two-game suspension for high-sticking David Krejci. Rasmussen has also assessed a penalty on the ice for the play. Sure, it shouldn’t have happened, and a player needs to be held accountable for their stick, whether or not it was intentional or not. I don’t feel that Rasmussen had any intent to injure, and I was shocked that he received a suspension. In fairness, Krejci was forced to miss a week. When you compare that to what Slafkovsky did to Luff, it’s not even on the same wavelength.

The hit brought back many dark memories of Claude Lemieux hitting Kris Draper in 1996.

Detroit Red Wings head coach Derek Lalonde responds to dirty hit on forward Matt Luff.

“As far as the hit, the right call was made. It’s unfortunate,” Red Wings head coach Derek Lalonde told reporters. “It’s the exact hit you want to try to avoid, because of exactly what happened. A player got seriously injured. It is what it is. The right call was made. And we move on.”

Lalonde is referring to the five-minute major penalty and ejection assessed to Slafkovsky following the hit.

The hit from behind that you saw in the video is the most dangerous hit in hockey. A player in Luff’s position, a couple of feet away from the boards, defenseless; it’s the main reason the NHL implemented no-touch icing into the game. Far too many players racing for the puck toward the end boards were suffering serious injuries. It’s not the same type of play as what happened to Luff or Draper, but the same idea. It’s a miracle Luff didn’t suffer a severe brain injury or a broken neck.

The punishment Slafkovsky received from the league just doesn’t fit the infraction. If the league wants to remove these hits from behind, they need to suspend players for 10 or 15 games and double it for repeat offenders. The players will quickly get the point.

Luff can’t catch a break. Before getting hit from behind, the 25-year-old took a puck to the face a couple of weeks ago in a game against Minnesota. He lost some teeth and received 16 stitches for that injury.

In seven games this season, Luff has one goal and averaging just over 8-minutes of ice time skating on the fourth line.

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