The GM Meetings came and went with a lot of fanfare and really ended with a huge whimper. Sidney Crosby is the face of the NHL and is probably the gold standard as far as fantasy hockey players. Yet, many feel that the meetings this week produced very tangible results especially after the outrage caused when Zdeno Chara hit Max Pacioretty.
This week we have seen both Dany Heatley and Brad Marchand both suspended for two games indirectly because of what the GM’s were shown on Monday and Tuesday. Some will argue it was a more direct case. The problem is that the league generally ignores comments from social media and in some cases mainstream media in its rulings and lately has not cared about the injury and more about the intent which is a good thing in the long run.
The NHL has also put in a protocol for a player to be examined by a doctor for 15 minutes minimum to determine if he can go back on the ice or not. Concussions can appear quickly but in the case of Crosby’s, it did not. Team doctors clearly missed the first one (by D. Steckel) and then the second one (by V. Hedman) resulted. Though the NHL did finally do something, clearly in the offseason there is much more work to protect the players.
That is what it is all about here…protecting the players. It is harder to win fantasy leagues without your marquis players on your team, isn’t it? There were 145 players on the injured list yesterday and 29 had head or concussion issues. Now I am not a math major but that is generally good for 20%.
How about this twist in the argument for a second? Did you know that there are currently 26 players injured in the league due to knee injuries? What about them? As a rule, this is a violent sport and no one can wrap these players in bubble wrap. Take that for some sobering reality fantasy hockey fans.
The growing problem that is hurting more fantasy teams is the fact that the NHL had rules in its arsenal to prevent this sort of thing from mushrooming and yet, of course, it has happened anyway.
As for really anything else productive during the meetings, there was not much to note in a noticeable sense.
Basically here is How To Interpret The GM Meetings.
Step 1: They had to start somewhere
In order to protect players, the league had to do something and thankfully they are suspended some players for cowardly shots to the head. Look, the reality is more concussions are going to happen because in general all injuries are up this year. Blame the NHL for scheduling the way they did. Teams should not have 19 or 20 back to backs which affects fantasy teams like no other year. Give them credit for at least establishing something of an “on the fly” protocol for concussions and hopefully they will start to look at the existing rules.
Step 2: Use the existing rules with some sense and scheduling
There is nothing more frustrating to know that there are things in place to help along the NHL and they are not being used. Larger suspensions did once happen and only a few years ago. Also, the fines need to be tweaked to include larger fines for repeat offenders and that should have been addressed much sooner. Count these fines against the salary cap and watch these hits go down. The Mario Lemieux idea does have merit even if it means Mario will likely have to shell out several hundred thousand dollars or so.
As for the instigator rule, make it gone. There is no need for it IF you suspend players for “staged fighting”. They can get their 5 and 10 and 10 for your fantasy team while taking a couple game vacation. Reckless hits like knee on knee hits which can be more of a problem can fall under this increased wrath as well. Enough is enough. The league is better off with less tinkering and more doing. That also helps your fantasy hockey team. Make it more clear NHL and that is all we ask.
Step 3: STICK TO IT!
If you are going to make new rules, do not keep screwing around with them. Even fantasy hockey GM’s want to have an idea of what goes league wise from year to year without feeling like its an IRS tax and enterprise investment scheme form all over again. Short term, fantasy GM’s should expect more suspensions of the shorter variety that will have playoff impact. Losing Dany Heatley for a week hurts much more now than early in the season just for example. What if say a Steven Stamkos got five for boarding someone from behind that caused a concussion? What would that do to your fantasy team? I expect one such suspension coming in the next couple weeks to a player. It is going to happen because that hurts fantasy GM’s more this time of year and feels like a 20 gamer.
Long term the NHL has to enact a plan it can stick to and until it can, maybe it is best that they continue to middle around and talk about it. Nothing would hurt more than to do something ambitious then have to destroy it a year in. In the same token, doing something hackneyed like Rule 48 only to have to address it again in the same season. Clearly work needs to be done to make fantasy hockey lives easier.
What do you think needs to be done? Let us know so that all fantasy hockey players can send a message to Gary Bettman and the NHL that clearly what they are doing is not enough. Until then, good luck and see you next week for more. There is always more.
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